MANHATTAN — The family of an unarmed man who was shot and killed by an undercover narcotics detective in Inwood last year is calling on the feds to launch a civil rights investigation into the incident.
The call comes days after the family of John Collado, 43, learned that a grand jury declined to indict the plainclothes cop who pulled his gun on the grandfather after he tried to break up what he thought was a fight between the detective, who was in plainclothes, and a neighbor on Sept. 6, 2011.
Collado, a father of five who also has a grandson, died the next day.
The family, still reeling from the incident, met with the Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal Thursday afternoon to discuss the grand jury hearing and were told the office stands by the panel's decision.
"I can’t justify the decision [not to indict]," Collado’s distraught wife Amarilis, told DNAinfo Thursday morning. "They know what happened. I can’t justify the decision, because the evidence is so clear."
She said the family has asked the U.S. Department of Justice for a federal civil rights probe into the incident and how it was handled.
"In reality I can’t have faith in the credibility of the city of New York," she said. "I’m going to investigate with the help of my lawyer and we are going to find justice."
"What happened there was an injustice," she added of the shooting death of her husband. "Our family is still waiting for them to recognize they committed an error."
Collado's family has accused the detective, whose name is being withheld by DNAinfo because he works undercover, of not following protocol when arresting convicted drug dealer Rangel Batista, 23, during a sting because there was no backup team.
According to the family, Collado, a former wrestler, saw the dustup last September on Post Avenue and jumped into the fray, believing that Batista, a neighbor, was under attack, Collado's relatives said.
Cops said Collado, who was not associated with the sting, choked the officer to the point where he was about to pass out, even after the detective identified himself.
But Collado family lawyer Brackley, said video footage and eyewitnesses indicate that the officer was tussling with Batista and then "broke from the person he was arresting and pulled out a gun and shot Collado."
Rangel was later charged with resisting arrest and assault on a police officer, but he was not hit with drug charges. He is due back in court on April 20.
Collado's relatives also said they want answers about why his niece, Banayz Taveras, a nursing student, was arrested and held for 27 hours after she tried to help her bleeding uncle.
Brackley said Taveras was beaten by police and had numerous bruises on her body after the ordeal. Taveras said Thursday she watched as police kicked her uncle to make sure he was alive before bringing him to Harlem Hospital for treatment.
"You would think that the city’s presentation of this incident would have presented a fully formed view of all of these events that day," Collado’s brother-in-law Joseph Wright told DNAinfo after the grand jury's decision last Friday.
"This whole episode was caused by a reckless cop. No citizen should be in a situation where they have to decipher that some violent event is being orchestrated by an undercover cop."
"Mr. Collado did not have to die," Rodriguez told DNAinfo in an email statement. "From the beginning, I have asked how an undercover officer was by himself in this operation, without any backup, potentially placing his own life in danger and escalating any potential incidents."
"I have a lot of respect for the men and women of the NYPD, but believe this tragedy deserves further investigation."