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Ex-Correction Officer Who Fatally Shot Man in Subway Won't Face Charges: DA

By Sybile Penhirin | May 4, 2015 7:24pm | Updated on May 4, 2015 8:38pm
 Photo from left to right Gilbert Drogheo's younger brother, his uncle Luis Drogheo, his mother Linda Rodigrez and Rev.Kevin McCall from National Action Network at a press conference on March 12,2015. Bottom right: Gilbert Drogheo.
Photo from left to right Gilbert Drogheo's younger brother, his uncle Luis Drogheo, his mother Linda Rodigrez and Rev.Kevin McCall from National Action Network at a press conference on March 12,2015. Bottom right: Gilbert Drogheo.
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DNAinfo/Sybile Penhirin and Nation Action Network

NEW YORK CITY — The Brooklyn District Attorney has decided not to bring charges against the retired correction officer who shot a man to death in a subway station, he said Monday.

Gilbert Drogheo, a 32-year-old electrician from Morningside Heights, died on March 10 after retired NYPD Department of Correction Officer Willie Groomes shot him in the torso inside the Borough Hall subway station, officials said. 

"Following a full and fair investigation into the fatal shooting of Gilbert Drogheo inside the Borough Hall subway station on March 10, 2015 by retired Correction Officer William Groomes, I have determined that criminal charges are not warranted in this matter," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement released late Monday.

"Based on interviews of multiple eyewitnesses to the events leading up to the shooting, our review of video tapes of the shooting itself and other evidence, I have decided not to put this case into the grand jury and will not bring criminal charges against Mr. Groomes. While the death of this young man was indeed tragic, we cannot prove any charge of homicide beyond a reasonable doubt."

The medical examiner ruled Drogheo’s death a homicide.

Groomes, who retired from the Department of Correction in 1993, was interviewed by the NYPD after the incident but was never arrested.

His lawyer, Peter Troxler, praised the DA's office for its decision.

"Mr. Groomes is gratified that, after a thorough review of the credible evidence, the Kings County District Attorney's arrived at the conclusion that no further action was warranted," Troxler said, adding that Groomes "cooperated with authorities at all stages of this investigation."

Drogheo's mother said she was outraged by the decision.

"I watched a video of my son being shot and killed and they tell me there was not crime committed? There was no evidence? I watched my son die on a video. What evidence do they want?" said Linda Rodriguez, 50.

She said the Brooklyn DA "could have presented the case in front of a grand jury. He did not even do that. Where is the fairness? This is not justice," continued Rodriguez, who said she had been calling the DA's office every day to see if there was any updates on the case.

"They gave (Groomes) a courtesy pass, from badge to badge," she said. "So is (the DA) trying to tell me that it is okay for anybody that has served the law, anyone of them who is retired with a gun permit, to shoot somebody?"

Rodriguez has amassed more than 200 signatures calling for charges in the shooting on the website change.org.

Drogheo and his co-worker, Joscelyn Evering, got into an argument and then a fight with Groomes because the 69-year-old man walked between the pair while they were blocking a subway door on a southbound 4 train, sources told DNAinfo New York.

Drogheo and Evering started making angry comments to Groomes, who replied in kind, prompting one of the men to shove Groomes down into an empty subway seat, sources told DNAinfo New York.

Groomes then followed Drogheo and Evering with his service weapon — a .380 Ruger — drawn when they got off at Borough Hall, sources said.  

A video of the incident shows Groomes walking behind the two men and arguing with them on the subway mezzanine.

Groomes pulled out his gun and shot Drogheo in the chest, according to the video and sources.

Drogheo, the eldest of Rodriguez's three sons, leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter, his mother said.

Evering, 28, was the only person charged after the incident.

He was charged with assault, menacing and harassment because Groomes suffered back and shoulder pain and feared further physical injury after Evering repeatedly pushed him, according to court documents. Evering is due back to court on June 23.