ATF Agent John Capano was shot and killed in Seaford, Long island, on New Year’s Eve when he intervened in a robbery at a pharmacy.
Agent Capano was in the pharmacy picking up a prescription when the assailant, who has a record of prior robberies, demanded money and medication.
He followed the robber, apparently wounding him, outside into a parking lot where a struggle ensued.
In the seconds that followed, at least two off-duty or retired police officers arrived and both the robber and the ATF agent were shot to death. The New York Post says sources indicate the gunman had a pellet gun, decreasing, but not eliminating entirely, the chances that he was the shooter.
If Capano was killed by friendly fire it will be yet another New York police death at the hands of fellow officers. Just last March and only miles from this shooting, a Nassau County Officer, Geoffrey Breitkopf, was shot and killed by an MTA officer.
With homicides at record lows across the nation, Long Island is becoming a dangerous place for police officers from a very unexpected quarter.
Yesterday’s (UK) Guardian reported that at least 944 police officers in England and Wales have criminal conviction records.
Included are convictions for keeping a dangerous dog, the old “420″, various dangerous driving offenses (some with fatalities) and drunk driving.
This (again) raises the question of whether or not perfection is required in order to be a police officer, firefighter or paramedic. The earlier these offenses are committed, the less impact they should have in determining suitability for employment. Punishing someone for youthful indiscretion or a brush with stupidity isn’t in the best interest of employers or the public. Of course, if the brush becomes a habit, then there is a problem.
Interestingly, there are also officers with convictions for forgery, robbery, theft and assault. These seem to fall outside the realm of human indiscretion and more into the orbit of potential ne’er-do-well but I’m sure that each story has an interesting twist.
One thing’s for sure, being arrested by a convicted cop should guarantee one some empathy, at least.
Sources: NYT, NYP, Guardian