A New York City police officer who downed several beers and whiskeys before getting into his car, driving down the street and stopping at a traffic light before stepping out and shooting two random strangers in another car was sentenced to nine years in prison this month.
Brendan Cronin told police he was “on the job” when he was arrested a half-mile away that fateful evening on April 28, 2014.
He later claimed he did not remember a thing about that night.
But victims Joseph Felice and Robert Borrelli will never forget that terrifying evening when they were driving home from a recreational hockey game and came to a stop at a red light, only for a drunken off-duty cop to walk up to them and open fire.
Felice was hit six times. Borrelli hunkered down, thinking he’d be killed. Physically unharmed, he rushed his friend to the hospital.
Cronin told investigators he’d downed 10 drinks — beer and whiskey — after a day of training at a police shooting range.
Felice described in his victim-impact statement how the shooting has affected him and his family.
“We have always told our son if something happens, go to the police, as it is their job to protect you,” Felice said. “How do I explain to my son that Mr. Cronin, a police officer, tried to kill me for absolutely no reason?”
Borrelli said he’s plagued by survivor’s guilt and memories of Felice gasping for air and the whites of his eyes as he lost consciousness.
Felice’s mental replay of the shooting includes the popping sounds and “excruciating burn” as bullets ripped through his chest, arm, shoulder, wrist, thumb and back.
One bullet, still lodged in his chest, “is a constant reminder of my terror,” he said.
The incident took place in Pelham in Westchester County, just outside of New York City. Lawyers for the victims say Cronin tried to use his police credentials to avoid arrest
But the incident was captured on surveillance video, so there was not much Blue Courtesy available to him. It does not appear as if the video was ever publicly released.
Initially facing 25 years in prison, Cronin agreed to a plea deal where he was plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder, assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.
He was convicted in September and was expected to surrender in a week to begin serving his sentence, but somehow, that week turned into seven months where he was not sentenced until April 13.
The victims have a pending lawsuit against the New York City Police Department for failing to train their officer to not drink and drive and shoot random people on the streets.