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Lawyer: Grand Jury Indicts White Off-Duty Officer Who Shot Undercover Cop

March 2, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ A police officer has been indicted on assault charges for firing five shots at an armed, black undercover colleague he mistook for a gunman on a crowded subway platform, representatives of boths sides said.

Prosecutors were to announce the indictment of Officer Peter DelDebbio today, said Brian O’Dwyer, who represents Transit Officer Desmond Robinson.

A police union spokesman, Dennis Sheehan, said that also was his understanding. The district attorney’s office refused to comment.

``It’s very important that Officer DelDebbio answer for what he has done,″ O’Dwyer said.

A black police fraternal organization claimed DelDebbio, who is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent, overreacted because Robinson is black.

``I’m not looking for vengeance,″ Robinson said at a news conference today. ``God has been nice to me.″

Asked if he felt sorry for DelDebbio, Robinson said, ``I can’t say I would forgive anyone for shooting me in the back.″

DelDebbio said through police union officials representing him that he fired in self-defense while he was off-duty because he ``faced a gun.″ He denied shooting Robinson in the back as he lay on the ground.

The two officers squared off on Aug. 22 while converging on an armed teen-ager in a crowded Manhattan subway station during evening rush-hour. DelDebbio, who was not in uniform as he rode home on a train, fired five shots at close range, critically wounding Robinson, a plainclothes officer whose gun was drawn.

As Robinson recovered, he said DelDebbio had shot him four times in the back _ a contention supported by a private forensic pathologist hired by O’Dwyer. Robinson said he was struck by two shots while he was face-down and defenseless on the platform.

``Peter DelDebbio defended himself and used proper force,″ said James Lysagt, an attorney for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. ``It’s an indictment of society.″

The first-degree assault charge carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. DelDebbio was also indicted on a charge of second-degree assault, O’Dwyer said.

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