Death of NYPD Cop: Friendly Push Victim?

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In an interview with The Black Star, he said his client's girlfriend, Ms. Dykstra, says Villanueva did not lay his hands on officer Schaberger.

Who actually caused the fatal fall of NYPD officer Alain Schaberger from the stoop of a Brooklyn house several weeks ago? The death of officer Schaberger presents a number of questions which to this day have not yet been clearly answered.

Was it George Villanueva --whom police had come to arrest on a domestic abuse phone call-- who shoved the officer "with his two hands" into the open pit stairway, nine feet below the stoop, as Commissioner Ray Kelly said?

Or, could it be that, as Villanueva's lawyer maintains --citing eye witnesses-- another police officer on that small stoop on the night in question that accidentally caused officer Schaberger to tumble into the pit and sustain a broken neck?

If indeed Villanueva wasn't responsible, is he then being wrongfully prosecuted --first degree murder-- for a crime he didn't commit? In the early morning hours of March 13, officer Schaberger of the 84th precinct plummeted from the stoop of a Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, brownstone building. He landed on the stairway approximately nine feet below head first and sustained the fatal neck injury. He was pronounced dead later that morning, at Brooklyn Lutheran Medical Center.

The police said Schaberger died after he was pushed from the stoop by Villanueva. Schaberger had accompanied other officers to arrest Villanueva. Yet, in a stunning revelation, Kleon Amdreadis, Villanueva's claims that he has witnesses who will testify that his client didn't push Schaberger.

The police version of this incident ran in several New York publications.

"A veteran cop broke his neck and died Sunday after he was shoved from a Brooklyn stoop by a drunken ex-con," during a domestic violence bust, reported The Daily News. Attributing the information to the police, The Daily News added, "Officer Alain Schaberger toppled 9 feet over the railing of a Boerum Hill brownstone, pushed by George Villanueva, a small-time crook who was threatening to kill his girlfriend."

At his arraignment hearing Villanueva was charged with first degree murder. Based on a number of newspaper accounts - The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post-- as well as police department reports and press conference statements from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and my own telephone conversations with various reporters who covered the case, there seems to be a number of dubious pieces of information being provided to the public.

For example, The Daily News reported that Police Commissioner Kelly said, "The cops then moved to handcuff Villanueva. When they placed one of his wrists into the cuffs, the 5-foot-8, 160 pound Villanueva shoved Schaberger with two hands." The Daily News' account of Kelly's comments added, "Schaberger, who also stood 5-foot-8 but had 20 pounds on the suspect, fell head first over the 21- inch railing into the basement stairwell."

According The Daily News' account, Kelly also said, "We have witnesses that say he was pushed with two hands from the steps over the railing." As of writing this article, the witnesses Commissioner Kelly referred to remain unidentified.

So, what really happened on that morning at 45 St. Mark's Place? The NYPD's version of events is disputed by Villanueva attorney Amdreadis. In an interview with The Black Star, he said his client's girlfriend, Ms. Dykstra, says Villanueva did not lay his hands on officer Schaberger. Amdreadis also said he has eyewitnesses who are prepared to testify under oath that Villanueva did not push officer Schaberger over the railing. His eyewitnesses are prepared to testify that it was another police officer --a Black female officer-- who caused Schaberger to fall into the stairwell, he says.

The only Black female officer on the stoop involved in the incident was officer Schaberger's partner, officer Celmira Velazquez.

The eyewitnesses Amdreadis refers to are prepared to testify that as Officer Velazquez seized the arm of Villanueva, to apply the handcuffs, Villanueva snatched his hand back and down. It was then that officer Velazquez jumped backwards, bumping into officer Schaberger and sending him over the railing during the pushing and shoving. "A tug-of war" to use Amdreadis' words, on that cramped stoop.

Amdreadis also dropped another bomb. He contends that during the  back-and-forth on the tiny stoop between the police and his client, the officers were not aware that officer Schaberger had fallen. Sgt. James Ecker had tasered Villanueva, at least four or five times, from the top of the stoop to the sidewalk below, the lawyer said. It was only after Villanueva had been brought down, that a subsequent headcount revealed that one officer was unaccounted. A search by the other officers discovered officer Schaberger, lying motionless in the stairwell leading to the basement, Amdreadis told The Black Star.

The police had come in response to a domestic abuse call. Villanueva maintains that while he may not be a sympathetic character, by virtue of the domestic abuse allegations, he denies being responsible for Schaberger's death. In an interview with a Daily News reporter who visited him behind bars on Rikers Island, he said, "The only thing I am guilty of is domestic abuse." He also said the incident "happened so fast" and that he did not know "anyone had fallen."

This reporter visited the scene of the tragic incident. The stoop had very low railing-only 21 inches. Then there is the open pit stairwell directly on the other side of the railing. Coupled with a struggle, as Amdreadis maintains, it's easy to see how there could have been disastrous consequences.

One could also question whether police followed proper procedures that might have protected officer Schaberger. Why wasn't Villanueva handcuffed while still inside his apartment? What about the building's landlord--was the stoop and low railing an accident waiting to happen? Since the incident, a new and higher metal guard fence has been installed. On the farm, that's called closing the gate after the cows have escaped.

The New York Police Department did not respond to inquiries including those sent by email message, seeking comment. Perhaps some of this twisted web of information, or possible  mis-information,  will get untangled at the next court date on this case, July 22, in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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