Photo by Robert Stridiron/RHS News
Police enter the 69th Street home in Maspeth following a police-involved shooting on Sept. 17.

Deputy Inspector John Mastronardi, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood, had only been home for an hour and a half after laying his friend and fellow officer, Joe Simone, to rest on Sept. 17 when he received the call.

Police officers had been involved in a deadly shooting within his command.

Yet, no officers from the 104th Precinct were involved in the incident, in which 54-year-old Susan Muller reported a burglary in her home, then charged at the responding officers with a 10-inch kitchen knife and was shot in the chest by an officer, according to authorities. Members of the 110th, 111th and 114th precincts were covering for Mastronardi and his officers while they attended Simone’s funeral.

As more details emerged about Muller on Sept. 18, Mastronardi fielded questions about how the incident was handled during a 104th Precinct Community Council meeting at Maspeth’s Martin Luther School. One attendee in particular posed the following series of questions:

Did the four officers follow the emotionally disturbed persons procedure? Were the officers equipped with body cameras, and if so, will the footage be released to the public? How many officers fired? Were all their guns drawn? Why were the four officers unable to subdue a 54-year-old woman with what the attendee described as a butter knife? (It was actually, as police reported, a 10-inch kitchen knife.)

According to a report from The New York Times, police had responded to 911 calls at Muller’s home nine times since 2000. Four of those calls involved domestic violence, while three involved reports of an intoxicated person. In the most recent call on Sept. 9, Muller was acting irrationally and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Muller’s boyfriend, retired police officer Edward Rodgers, told the Times that Muller was “a very nice person, a very sweet girl, but if she picked up a drink her personality changed.”

While the 104th Precinct may have been familiar with Muller’s troubles, the responding officers who ultimately shot her most likely were not.

In responding to the questions, Mastronardi first pointed out that it wasn’t a “butter knife,” but a long steak knife that Muller wielded. The officers were responding to a report of a burglary in progress, with no indication that an emotionally disturbed person was involved, Mastronardi added. He also said that one or two of the officers at the scene were wearing body cameras.

The Times report, however, notes that the body cameras captured the sound from the incident but not much of what happened visually. In the recording, a woman could be heard shrieking followed by an officer yelling, “Drop the knife!” before three gunshots rang out, according to the Times.

“Nothing but the best for her and her family, I understand that she was going through a lot of turmoil,” Mastronardi concluded. “I’m very happy that my officers  because they are the New York City Police Department, it doesn’t matter if they were the 104th Precinct or not — they did an excellent job and I’m glad they’re OK.”


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