The NYPD released body camera footage earlier this week of a 2019 non-fatal shootout between plainclothes police officers and a 38-year-old man in Ozone Park that sent two people to the hospital, including the security guard of a bar where the shooting occurred.
In October 2020, the NYPD’s Use of Force Review Board found that the shooting was justified.
On March 9, 2019, around 3:55 a.m., a fight broke out inside of RRR Bar & Lounge, located at 87-18 Liberty Ave., according to the NYPD.
The fight spilled out onto the sidewalk and Anthony Vega, a 38-year-old patron of the bar, pulled out a gun, according to the authorities. An RRR security guard began to fight Vega when four plainclothes police officers from the 106th Precinct drove up to the scene and exited their car with their guns drawn, video shows.
The shooting starts almost immediately.
Vega, who ended up firing seven shots, allegedly fired first, according to the NYPD. In all, the four officers in the anti-crime unit – Sgt. Sean Doheny, Officers Peter Giganti, Marco Delpiore and John Toto – fired 13 shots back, cops said.
Police shot Vega three times – once in his arm and twice in his leg. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was treated and released, according to the authorities.
The lounge employee was shot once in his left foot and also taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition. It’s unclear from the video if the employee was shot by police or Vega.
“Hold up, hold up, he’s a guard! What are you doing?” a bystander can be heard yelling at the officers after the firefight ends.
After taking Vega into custody, officers found a Ruger Model LC9s 9mm handgun that Vega had allegedly tossed into the street after the shootout.
Vega, who is currently being prosecuted by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, faces a host of charges, including four counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
He will appear back in court on March 4, 2021.
Anti-crime units, of which the four officers were members, were disbanded over the summer following protests over police violence. Officers in the units were reassigned throughout the NYPD.
The plainclothes units, whose officers made up around 6 percent of the NYPD in 2018, accounted for around 31 percent of fatal NYPD shootings from 2000 until 2018, according to an investigation by The Intercept.
“This is a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at the time. “It will be felt immediately in the communities that we protect.”
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