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Officers Cleared in Harlem Block Party Shootings

Friday, March 04, 2011

A grand jury has decided against charging four police officers with any crimes in a deadly shooting after a New York City block party last summer, two sources familiar with the investigation told the Associated Press today.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the proceeding. The Manhattan district attorney's office, which led the probe, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The officers fired a total of 46 bullets were fired in the August 8th incident.

In the end, 21-year-old Luis Soto was killed by a police bullet, prosecutors said; the man fighting with him, Angel Alvarez, was shot at least 15 times, and two officers and three bystanders were hurt.

Alvarez was cleared of any criminal charges earlier this week. His lawyers say he's planning to suing the city for damages.

The head of the police officers' union applauded what he called a grand jury decision based "on the facts of the case and not on fiction from the streets.

The officers - Douglas Brightman, Michael Tedeschi, Thomas Cozart and Sgt. Paul Kerrigan - have been on desk duty during the investigation.

The grand jury has spent about six months investigating the episode, which came around 3 a.m. as hundreds of people left a Harlem block party that had run hours past its scheduled end.

The violence started with a street fight between two men, escalated into gunfire as they grappled over a weapon and sparked a barrage of police bullets, authorities have said.

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