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AG opens probe into NYPD killing of Belt Parkway driver

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The state attorney general’s office has opened a probe into the fatal shooting of a crazed Brooklyn driver by NYPD officers on the Belt Parkway last week.

A speeding Brian Astarita crashed his vehicle into a cop car around 4 p.m. Nov. 11 during a chase and then got out and approached officers with a BB gun, refusing to halt, before he was shot dead, authorities have said. Police sources have said the case appears to a suicide-by-cop incident.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James
New York State Attorney General Letitia James opened a probe into the fatal NYPD shooting of Brian Astarita.
AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

The Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation said Sunday that it will probe the case as required by the passage of state criminal-justice reforms in 2020.

Astarita, Brian
Brian Astarita crashed his vehicle into a cop car on Nov. 11.

“Pursuant to New York State Executive Law Section 70-b, OSI assesses every incident reported to it where a police officer or a peace officer, including a corrections officer, may have caused the death of a person, by an act or omission,” the AG’s office said in a statement. “If OSI’s assessment indicates an officer caused the death, OSI proceeds to conduct a full investigation of the incident.”

Astarita, 65, had been pulled over for speeding in his gray Jeep Cherokee near the Belt Parkway’s Bay 8th Street exit, authorities said.

As a cop approached the car, he fled, according to the NYPD. The female officer followed in pursuit, but Astarita rammed her car when she stopped in front of him near the Verrazzano Bridge, police said.

Astarita grabbed his black BB gun from the back seat and walked toward officers on the highway, police said. Officers opened fire, striking him multiple times, according to police.

The NYPD later released a photo of Astarita’s BB gun.


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