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NYPD officer Brian Mulkeen killed by friendly fire during Bronx takedown, 2nd time in less than a year cops fatally shoot one of their own

2019-10-01

In 10 seconds, the fatal error occurred.

NYPD officers rushing to aid a fellow cop caught in a violent struggle with an armed suspect unleashed a fusillade meant to protect him.

Instead, their bullets killed him.

Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, died by friendly fire, grim NYPD officials acknowledged at a press conference Monday — the second time in less than a year that such a disaster has befallen the department.

“This is a tragic case ...," Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. "But make no mistake we lost the life of a courageous public servant solely due to a violent criminal who put the lives of the police and the people we serve in jeopardy.”

Mulkeen was grappling with Antonio Williams, an ex-con who ran from police early Sunday when they tried to question him about gang activity near the Edenwald Houses in the Bronx, O’Neill said.

A witness to the shooting, Thomas Davis, 38, a maintenance worker at the Edenwald Houses, told the Daily News that Williams had been standing around as if waiting for a cab but took off running when Mulkeen and another officer pulled up in an unmarked car.

Mulkeen "jumped out of the car (and shouted) ‘Hey you! Stop running! Come here!’ said Davis, a maintenance worker at the Edenwald Houses. “The cop goes after him ... He pursued (Williams) into the alley and they started tussling.”

As the two men fought on the ground, 27-year-old Williams grabbed for his own gun, a .32 caliber revolver.

"He’s reaching for it!” Mulkeen shouted, his desperate words captured by a body camera. “He’s reaching for it!”

Before Williams could fire even once, Mulkeen pulled the trigger on his own weapon five times — prompting cops behind him to open fire as well.

As 10 shots rang out, two of them struck the six-year veteran, killing him, officials said.

“One of the cops was screaming, ‘Oh my god! Oh my god!’ He was losing his mind,” Davis said.

"There was so much gun smoke it was like they were smoking cigarettes. You could see it in the air.”

O’Neill called it “a violent struggle, and from start to finish, from first round to last round, it was 10 seconds,” the commissioner said. "Just think about that. Think about how quick that is.”

The NYPD didn’t specify which officers were responsible for the shots that killed Mulkeen. But police do know he was hit twice by friendly fire, one round striking him in the head, the other entering and exiting his upper body.

Williams was also wounded and died shortly after the wild shooting.

Seven months ago, NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was also fatally shot by fellow officers in February while confronting a robbery suspect — a devastating accident the department tried to learn from, O’Neill said Monday.

Prior to that, the NYPD hadn’t seen a fatal friendly fire incident since 2009, when off-duty cop Omar Edwards, 25, chasing a suspect who tried to break into his car, was gunned down by a fellow officer.

The NYPD is conducting a full probe into the circumstances of Mulkeen’s death, officials said.

Whatever the results, two things are clear, according to O’Neill: Mulkeen died a hero and he and his fellow anti-crime officers did nothing wrong.

“Brian was the one that initiated the chase,” O’Neill said. "I saw some of the body-worn camera footage and I gotta tell you — there’s 36,000 cops in this police department and each of them incredible human beings, but I’m not sure everyone would have done that.


"He displayed incredible, incredible courage.”

With John Annese