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Friday, July 11, 2008


The New York Post by DOUGLAS MONTERO and LAURA ITALIANO - July 11, 2008

The off-duty narcotics cop who fatally shot an unarmed motorist after a "road rage" argument on the FDR Drive - then fled the scene and hid for 19 hours - has been cleared of all charges by a Manhattan grand jury. The decision came after the panel heard testimony from 16 police, medical and civilian witnesses - including the officer himself and the victim's friend, who saw the shooting from inches away, DA Robert Morgenthau said yesterday. Both agreed that Officer Sean Sawyer fired his weapon after the victim threatened, "Want to see my new Ruger?" and then extended his arm with his hand stretched out in the shape of a gun. The grand jury's vote means Sawyer, 34, no longer faces criminal prosecution for the Oct. 21 death of Jayson Tirado, 25. But his NYPD job remains on the line. Sawyer, who's already on paid suspension from his position in the Queens Narcotics Bureau, must now explain to the police firearms discharge review board why he failed to immediately report the shooting, said his lawyer, Richard Murray. His dismissal from the force is likely, sources said. "It was not something he ever wished would happen, and he's obviously sorry someone died," Murray said. The announcement outraged Tirado's loved ones, who questioned how a police officer could possibly be cleared after shooting an unarmed civilian, leaving him to die, then failing to surface for the better part of a day. "I'm angry," said Tirado's fiancée, Lisa Claudio, the mother of his daughter, Jaylene, 5. "I didn't think he was going to be charged with murder, but I at least expected him to be charged with not staying there." Jaylene keeps asking, "Why did the cop kill my daddy?" the mother said. But leaving the scene of a shooting - unlike leaving the scene of a car accident - is simply not an offense under state law, Morgenthau pointed out.

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