Family of Slain Bodega Worker Reynaldo Cuevas Sues NYPD

By Patrick Wall on March 8, 2013 6:01pm 

BRONX CRIMINAL COURT — The family of Reynaldo Cuevas, the Bronx bodega worker fatally shot by a cop as he fled armed robbers, stood outside the Bronx Hall of Justice on Friday and demanded that someone be held to account for the young man’s death.

They said they had filed a notice of claim for a $25 million wrongful death suit against the city, the NYPD and Ramysh Bangali, the officer whom Cuevas collided with as he escaped the robbery, apparently causing the officer’s weapon to discharge.

The notice asserts that Bangali “negligently and recklessly fired his weapon” during the Sept. 7 incident, then “failed to obtain appropriate and immediate medical attention” once Cuevas was shot.

The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The family on Friday also urged the court to convict the three robbers — Christopher Dorsey, 17, Orlando Ramos, 32, and Ernesto Delgado, 28 — of felony murder for allegedly causing Cuevas’ death.

“I feel devastated,” Ana Cuevas, the 20-year-old's mother, said through a translator. “Where is the justice? Where is the judicial system in the United States?”

The Bronx District Attorney’s office announced this month that after an “extensive review” it had found no evidence to suggest Bangali committed any crime when his gun discharged, so he will not face a grand jury.

“I don’t know why they didn’t take the cop to grand jury,” Ana Cuevas, 51, said Friday, “so they could decide whether he should be indicted or not.”

The three robbers had barged into Aneurys Deli Grocery in Morrisania late that night as the store was closing and, after one man pistol-whipped the owner, they began to stuff a backpack with cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

When police arrived, they bolted to the back of the bodega and Cuevas sprinted out the front, where he was shot.

The men have been charged with robbery, burglary and murder in the second degree, or felony murder, for causing Cuevas’ death as they allegedly committed a crime.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

“If they are found to have been in commission of a robbery when this death occurred, then they are as responsible for the death as the person who pulled the trigger,” said Sanford Rubenstein, the lawyer representing the Cuevas family in their civil suit.

The men face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life for the murder charge, Rubenstein added.

At a court appearance Friday, Delgado’s lawyer requested a psychiatric evaluation for his client, whose case was adjourned until April 12.

Dorsey’s and Ramos’ cases were adjourned until March 27.

Joel Cuevas, 28, joined his mother outside the courthouse Friday.

He recalled Reynaldo as “the best brother ever,” a stellar basketball player and hard worker who was saving up money to move his three-year-old daughter from the Dominican Republic to be with him in the US.

Reynaldo had also been in the process of enlisting in the military in the hopes of joining his sister in the Marines, Joel added.

Only two years before, the Cuevas’ father was shot to death in a robbery in the Dominican Republic, Joel noted.

“And now I lost my brother in a robbery, too,” Joel said. “It’s hard for us. It hasn’t been the same.”

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