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N.Y. officers investigated in police death

The Associated Press
Related: Slain N.Y. officer may have been mistaken for a suspect

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Authorities are investigating four police officers involved in the fatal shooting of an off-duty policeman who was gunned down as he tried to stop an assault.

Mount Vernon Officer Christopher Ridley was not in uniform Friday when he witnessed a violent assault in nearby White Plains and rushed to break up the fight, authorities said. Witnesses told reporters that Westchester County officers ordered Ridley to drop his gun, then shot the 23-year-old when he didn't immediately comply.

The shooting in downtown White Plains stoked racial tensions in the suburb about 25 miles from midtown Manhattan. Ridley was black; two of the officers involved in the shooting are Hispanic, one is black and one is white.

Over the weekend, the Rev. Al Sharpton held a rally outside the White Plains police headquarters and called for a thorough probe. He said he didn't know whether race was a factor in the shooting.

The shooting is being investigated by the White Plains Police Department, whose deputy commissioner, Daniel Jackson, said it was too early to know whether any of the officers would face charges.

The four officers have not returned to work and will be assigned administrative duties when they do, Westchester Police Commissioner Thomas Belfiore said.

The four officers "are understandably and terribly grief-stricken," Belfiore said.

"Every officer involved in this incident responded without hesitation to what was a violent incident on the streets of White Plains. Each officer responded to the call of duty," the commissioner said.

He offered condolences to Ridley's family, Mount Vernon police and members of the Mount Vernon community, "who lost a brave and dedicated public servant."

County officials said a homeless man has been charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the attack that preceded the shooting outside the Westchester County government complex. They described the victim as a Bronx resident who was on his way home from work.

Belfiore identified those involved in the shooting as Detective Robin Martin, 47, and Officers Jose Calero, 35, Christian Gutierrez, 28, and Frank Oliveri, 38.

Calero and Gutierrez have been Westchester County officers for less than a year. Martin is a 20-year veteran and Oliveri a six-year member of the force.

Most of the officers previously worked in law enforcement elsewhere, but Belfiore said Friday was the first time any had fired in the line of duty.

Holly Savage of Port Chester said she witnessed the shooting as she waited for a bus around 5 p.m., as people were leaving work to go home.

The officers who fired "were standing across the street at the time. They were across from the incident," she told The Journal News on Monday. "I don't think he could hear them" yelling to drop the gun.

Ridley's mother, Felita Bouche, appeared at a makeshift shrine to her son on Monday morning.

"He's a person that died trying to help," a tearful Bouche said. "You ask your brothers, your fellow officers, to help you, not to kill you."

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