INWOOD — An undercover cop who shot and killed an Inwood man during an alleged drug bust will not face trial, a grand jury has ruled.
The decision left the family of John Collado, 43, a grandfather who lived at 26 Post Avenue, devastated.
Collado was shot and killed September when he tried to help a neighbor he thought was being attacked.
“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 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.”
Although police say the undercover officer shot Collado in self-defense when he intervened in the arrest of his neighbor Rangel Batista, family members said the shooting is an example of the kind of police brutality they call all too common in Inwood.
Police said Collado had placed the plainclothes cop in a chokehold when the officer attempted to arrest Batista, who was allegedly dealing drugs but hasn't been charged with a drug-related crime, according to police and court documents.
The family maintains that Collado was merely trying to break up what he thought was a fight between the officer and Batista.
“All he did was be a Good Samaritan,” his wife, Amaralis Collado, said in Spanish. “He tried to separate a fight, it was a humanitarian act.”
The grand jury decided not to indict fewer than two weeks in session, according to the family’s attorney Patrick Brackley.
“There’s that saying that the DA could indict a ham sandwich if they want to,” Brackely said, “but obviously the information they put forward is what exonerated this police officer.”
The family vowed to hold police accountable for the incident and said they plan to continue reaching out to neighbors for more witnesses “to bring to light what really happened,” said family friend Mike Jimenez.
“This is an injustice that could happen to all of us,” he said during a vigil Sunday afternoon outside Collado’s apartment where he was killed. Dozens of friends and family called for an internal investigation into the incident and said they would push for a state and federal probe if necessary.
“We need to make sure this never happens again,” Collado’s sister Maria Collado-Wright said. “This rogue cop must be penalized.”
Although City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez did not attend Sunday's vigil, his spokesman said he would continue to work with the family to address the issues that arose during the investigation to protect the community from a repeat of the situation last September.
"While we've now received an answer from the grand jury, our community is still waiting for answers from the NYPD to explain how this operation resulted in John Collado's death," Rodriguez said in an email statement.
"Though the courts have not found the officer guilty of any crime, there was a clear failure at some level to control what was happening that evening.”
Collado’s wife Amarilis told DNAinfo she is ready to do whatever it takes to clear her husband’s name and said she plans to call on elected officials and community leaders to help her lead the charge.
Collado recalled her husband’s life as she sat on her bed beneath his photo after the vigil. She said she and her family feels cheated for his loss.
“We will do anything we have to do, but we need help,” she said in Spanish, calling for the community to come together in the fight to end what she calls police brutality.
“Today is for me, but tomorrow might be for you.”