The New York Police Department and Bronx district attorney’s office are scrutinizing a raid last week that led to an officer fatally shooting a man they said was wielding a machete.
Mario Sanabria, 69, was killed around 4 a.m. last Tuesday after police, following up on a report that his nephew had a gun and narcotics, broke down the door and entered his apartment.
The nephew, Miguel Conde, 38, said he hadn’t lived in the apartment for seven months. He said he went there after the shooting and was questioned for hours before getting a summons for having a marijuana cigarette and a pocket knife.
Conde said detectives seemed confused and were looking for someone with a different first name and birthday than his.
Sanabria had provided live-in care for his elderly brother-in-law, Natalio Conde, who is Miguel Conde’s father. The 92-year-old said he fearfully pulled a sheet over his head and feigned sleep during much of the episode.
Natalio Conde said he heard Sanabria, who did not speak English, say “What’s happening?” in Spanish, then then he heard a shot. “It was like a bomb going off,” he said.
The detective, identified by sources as Ruben Leon, and his partner said they repeatedly ordered Sanabria to drop the weapon but he wouldn’t.
When Sanabria stepped toward them, Leon fired, blasting him in the chest, police said.
Natalio Conde said he owned a souvenir machete from the Caribbean. He said that in the seconds before he took cover, he did not see a machete in Sanabria’s hand, and he doubts Sanabria even knew where he kept it.
“When I heard what happened, I was in shock, because he always respected the law,” said the dead man’s son, Yeudy Sanabria. “If he got a ticket on the car, he would run out to pay it.”
“Five police officers can’t figure out a better way to take down a guy who is 69 years old and all of 5-4 and 160 pounds, other than shooting him in the chest?” said the family’s lawyer, Robert Vilensky. “Something happened in that room. We are going to have to take testimony to find out.”
Officials said the warrant to enter the premises has been sealed because of the investigation.
Stephen P. Davis, chief spokesman for the police department, said he could not provide additional details, also because of the investigation.