The off-duty NYPD cop who shot a man following a Long Island bar brawl fired the round after the altercation was over, according to the lawyer representing victim Atiba Watkins. The fight that lead to the shooting started when the 22-year-old NYPD officer, whose name has not yet been made public, got into a shoving match with the 23-year-old victim's cousin on or near the dance floor of the Irish bar Napper Tandy's in Miller Place on Thursday.
The pair then exchanged blows in the venue's lobby before the officer knocked down Watkins' cousin and exited the bar. According to the victim's attorney, Watkins and his two companions remained inside the venue for at least 20 minutes at the urging of bouncers. When they exited the bar, the officer and several others attacked them in a melee involving at least 10 people, the lawyer said. When that brawl concluded, Watkins was picking up a coat from the ground when he "takes two steps and he hears a shot," the attorney told Newsday. "After the fight is over is when he's shot."
Cops recovered a 4-inch folding knife, which police initially claimed belonged to Watkins, though the attorney said he "didn't know who owned it." Deputy NYPD Commissioner Paul Browne said that inspectors from patrol and internal affairs arrived at the scene and spoke with the officer — who has served on the force for a year and a half — and determined that he was not drunk. "Through their observation he was deemed to be fit for duty," Browne said. The officer was not given a breathalyzer, though he has since been placed "on active but modified duty." Watkins is in intensive care after surgery to remove a kidney damaged by the bullet, which struck him in his lower back, according to Newsday.