A review of a 2012 incident in which a Harrison police lieutenant fired two shots from a rifle as suspects in a burglary investigation were being arrested has found the shooting was accidental, according to Westchester County Police.
Westchester Department of Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth said that county police detectives have turned their findings over to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for review following an investigation of the incident in which a suspect and a police officer were hit with bullet fragments.
Longworth said all 11 Harrison police officers who were at the scene, including the lieutenant who fired his weapon, cooperated in the investigation. He said a motorist who was driving nearby when the incident occurred was also interviewed.
On Oct. 17, 2012, at about 6:30 p.m., Harrison police stopped a car on the Exit 10 off ramp connecting eastbound Interstate 287 to Westchester Avenue. Harrison officers were arresting three men who were suspects in a series of violent home invasion robberies and burglaries in Harrison and elsewhere in the region.
As officers approached the car, Lt. Vito Castellano fired two shots from a department-issued LMT Guardian 2000 .223 caliber rifle. Castellano was approaching the rear passenger-side door at the time.
On the night of the incident, Harrison police asked the Westchester County Police Forensic Investigation Unit collect evidence at the scene and for county police to conduct the investigation of the shooting.
Among the key findings of the investigation:
- Both rounds that Castellano fired went through the suspect vehicle’s rear passenger window and through the front passenger seat.
- One of the rounds passed through the seat intact and exited through the front driver’s side window. The other round struck the framework inside the passenger seat and shattered into three fragments.
- One of the bullet fragments struck the driver in the shoulder; another fragment struck Harrison Detective Stephen Barrone in the chest, lodging in his bullet-resistant vest.
- County police ballistics experts determined that the path that the bullets traveled indicates that the rifle was in a holding position near the waist, not in a shouldered position that would be used to engage a hostile target.
“The evidence indicates that Lt. Castellano fired his weapon accidentally and not intentionally,” Longworth said.