By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The 21 gunshot wound survivor of a police shootout in Harlem last summer may finally know the results of lengthy grand jury proceeding pending against him in early March, his lawyer said.
Angel Alvarez, 24, was charged with possession of a gun at his arraignment last summer, but prosecutors said they needed extra time to investigate the Aug. 8 gun battle, during which several police officers fired a total of 46 shots.
During the fight 21-year-old Luis Soto was killed, after an early morning cookout on Lenox Avenue between 143rd and 144th streets turned violent. A confrontation that had been "simmering" between Soto and Alvarez allegedly started the deadly chain of events.
Authorites charged that Alvarez picked up a gun during a scuffle with Soto. His lawyers argued he wrestled it away from Soto, to protect himself from an attack.
Police arrested Alvarez on an attempted murder charge, but it was downgraded to the possession charge by the time he was arraigned.
For the past six weeks a rarely-used special grand jury has convened to consider charges against Alvarez and anyone else involved in the shooting, including police.
The results of the special grand jury would likely be known by March 2, when Alvarez was next due to appear in court, his attorney Matthew Galluzzo said.
His defense team authorized prosecutors to prolong the investigation and once again waived his right to a speedy indictment at a court appearance Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Normally a case must be indicted within five days of a person's arrest. Alvarez was arrested about six months ago but his attorneys have cooperated because they believe the proceeding will exonerate him.
"We think the evidence favors him," Galluzzo said, adding that the officers are part of the investigation.
"Obviously it would be good for him as well if a police officer were charged," he said.
Alvarez had the right to testify before the grand jury and could have requested other witnesses to appear, Galluzzo said. The lawyer would not disclose whether his client had testified or would testify at the secret proceedings.
The grand jury may indict Alvarez on gun possession, attempted murder, murder or he could be exonerated completely.
Alvarez, who is being held at the infirmary at Rikers Island, still has a bullet lodged in his abdomen and another in his shoulder.