By Ben Fractenberg, Shayna Jacobs and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — The Inwood grandfather who was fatally shot by an undercover cop during a drug bust did not choke the officer as police officials said, according to the family's attorney, who cited video and witness evidence.
The news came as the lawyer, Patrick Brackley, said that John Collado's family was not allowed to see him before he died.
The grieving relatives — his wife, Amarilis Collado, son, John Collado Jr. and two nieces, Banayz Taveras and Yajaira Brion — appeared with Brackley at his Lower Manhattan office after seeing his body for the first time at the Medical Examiner's Office Thursday evening.
“In this particular case, it was nothing short of a shooting of an unarmed Good Samaritan at point blank range,” said Brackley.
Collado was killed on Sept. 6 after he jumped into a scuffle he saw on Post Avenue, near Dyckman Street, between a plainclothes officer and a convicted drug dealer who was suspected of selling drugs out of a building lobby.
Cops said that Collado, who was not associated with the sting, choked the officer to the point where he was about to pass out after the officer had identified himself.
But according to the lawyer — who reviewed video of the incident and spoke with eyewitnesses — Collado got in between the officer and convicted drug dealer Rangel Batista, 23, a friend, and tried to break up the fight, not knowing that the other man was a cop.
At that point, the officer "broke from the person he was arresting and pulled out a gun and shot Collado," Brackley said.
When she saw the shooting, Collado's niece, Taveras, who is studying to become a nurse, tried to help her bleeding uncle, but was instead arrested.
“It turns out she was beaten by the police as well, has numerous bruises was arrested and spent almost 27 hours in the police lockup before she was released by a judge,” Brackley said.
Taveras was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Prosecutors said she screamed at police, slapped a radio out of an officer's hand and tried to jump into the ambulance.
Brackley plans to file a wrongful death suit in the case of Collado and a malicious prosecution suit on behalf of Taveras.
An autopsy was conducted on Collado Thursday morning, and the family plans to bury him over the weekend, Brackley said.
The news came as the man who was allegedly at the center of the drug bust, Batista, was arraigned on assault and resisting arrest charges Thursday.
Batista was allegedly rolling a marijuana cigarette in the lobby of 26 Post Ave. when he was spotted by a plainclothes detective who entered the lobby and identified himself.
"Don't move! Don't move!" the officer told the suspect, according to court papers.
But Batista did not cooperate and a scuffle ensued that spilled out onto the street. It is unclear whether police were targeting Batista or if they spotted the drug activity and took action.
"A chase ensued and there was a struggle that took place for two minutes," Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal said.
Meanwhile, Batista — who had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly skipping out on a sentencing for a felony drug case — fled the scene as Collado lay bleeding on the street at about 5 p.m., police said.
"But for [Batista's] actions this situation would not have occurred," Rosenthal added at the proceeding.
Batista was arrested at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, although no drugs were found. Investigators believe he may have dumped the drugs after leaving the scene of the shooting and allegedly found 30 small bags of marijuana in the same lobby Batista fled from, officials said.
Batista is charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. He was ordered held without bail and is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 12.
Batista's lawyer said his client's arrest is a "textbook example of a scapegoat" situation whereby an uninvolved person is blamed for a death.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the neighborhood, called for a thorough investigation.
"There has to be justice," he said. "We want justice in upper Manhattan."
The NYPD did not have an immediate comment.