A report providing details on the death of Brooklyn resident Brian Astarita, who was shot by New York Police Department officers less than two years ago, has been released by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation.
According to the report, on the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2021, a female NYPD Highway 2 Patrol officer was conducting radar enforcement on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, during which she would clock Astarita driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit in the area.
The officer proceeded to turn on her sirens and pulled Astarita over. When the officer requested that the Brooklyn man provide his license and registration, he told her that his license was suspended and sped away in his Jeep.
In an attempt to stop Astarita, the officer pursued the man and tried slowing him down by pulling her car in front of his vehicle numerous times. During the pursuit, the officer also called for backup, which was responded to by another NYPD Highway 2 officer.
Once the initial officer was able to successfully get the Brooklyn citizen to stop, the second officer joined her at the scene.
After both officers approached Astarita’s Jeep, he exited the vehicle and pulled out what looked to be a black, semiautomatic handgun, which he pointed at the two officers.
The two officers repeatedly ordered Astarita to drop his weapon, but he reportedly continued to point the gun at the officers, yelling at them to let him go. This led to the officers firing their weapons at the man, hitting his legs and shoulders, until they were successfully able to disarm him.
The officers then performed life-saving measures on the Brooklyn citizen and called for an ambulance. Astarita would be taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The weapon Astarita pointed at the officers was later identified as a BB gun. According to the report, the weapon did not sport any markings that would differentiate it from actual firearms.
Based on the overall evidence from the report, the New York General Attorney's OSI found that no criminal charges should be pressed against the officers involved in the incident.
“Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another…” said a release from the New York Attorney General.
“... In this case, evidence indicates that when Mr. Astarita pointed his weapon at the officers in the presence of civilians and refused to drop it, the officers who shot Mr. Astarita reasonably believed that he could cause fatal harm to them or an innocent bystander.”
The report was finalized by OSI as the result of an investigation that involved gathering body camera footage, evidence found at the scene of the incident, cell phone videos, as well as interviews from witnesses.