Pelham shooting victims speak out on eve of potential plea
By Matt Coyne
The Journal News (September 22, 2015, 9:28AM)
Joseph Felice and Robert Borrelli's lives have changed for the worse since they were shot at in Pelham in April 2014 — allegedly by a drunk, off-duty NYPD officer.
Meanwhile, they say Brendan Cronin — the officer who is charged with emptying his police-issued Glock 9mm into Borrelli's car at a red light as the two friends drove home from a recreational hockey game — has moved on with his life and even gotten married while suffering little fallout from his actions.
Speaking with the Journal News Monday afternoon at a lawyer's office in Midtown Manhattan — on the eve of Cronin's next appearance in Westchester County Court — Felice, his wife Patricia Scalfani and Borrelli said they want that changed.
"We're sitting here, our lives are in limbo. We just want to move on and put as much of this horrific experience behind us. It'll never go away. We'll take this to the grave," said Felice, who believes the case has been drawn out because Cronin is a police officer. "We do need closure."
Felice and Borrelli, both of New Rochelle, said Cronin spent almost no time in jail, had other officers come to to the Pelham Police Department after his arrest to vouch for him and even brandished his gun at responding officers to let them know he was "on the job," or a fellow officer.
Felice was struck six times and still has a bullet lodged in his chest. He said his "pretty much perfect life" has been ruined, as he now relies on his wife to drive him to his job as a salesman, which forced her to quit her own job. He has not been able to golf or play hockey and is unable to pick up his 5-year-old son, who still suffers from his own trauma from the incident.
Borrelli, who was not hit and drove Felice to Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, says he deals with lingering feelings he could have done something to prevent the shooting.
Cronin, 28, has maintained a not guilty plea to charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and driving while intoxicated. Felice and Borrelli's lawyer, Randolph McLaughlin ofNewman Ferrara, said if Cronin changes his plea, the victims want a minimum sentence of 12 1/2 years.
"We feel that is justice, we feel that it is fair and it is strong enough and stiff enough to send a message that another cop, whether it's NYPD or Westchester County, will be accountable for their actions," he said. "I don't want this to happen to anybody again."
Felice and Scalfani, along with Borrelli and his wife, are pursuing separate federal civil suits filed against Cronin, New York City, its police department and certain personnel, and Alehouse, the City Island bar where Cronin and other officers allegedly were drinking before the incident.
They contend the city should take responsibility for what they say is a culture that allows officers to get drunk and behave badly without consequence. The civil suits — set for trial in October — cite 10 different incidents last year in which drunk officers committed crimes.
"We think a jury hearing this saga will put a very high number on this complaint, a much higher number than this city has ever seen in any other case they've handled," McLaughlin said of the civil cases. "We want to change policy, and we're going to make them pay for what they've done, or what they've failed to do."
To read the article from the Journal News,click here.