New York

Righteous Shoot?

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Investigators are now saying that the police shooting of an ex-NYPD cop on Staten Island early yesterday morning was justified.

Depending on whom you ask, retired Sergeant Jason Aiello was either mildly distraught when confronted by police outside his SI home, or completely crazed and spouting religious nonsense with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Either way, the facts are that the 36 year old Aiello had escaped from a psychiatric hospital shortly before the incident that left him dead. Police say he’d checked himself into the Bayley Seton Center on Monday night and doctors there were put on notice by family members that Aiello was an ex-cop and had access to weapons.

Hospital officials claim Aiello escaped by forcing his way out of a waiting room as another patient was coming through the door. He then headed back to his home and was heard by at least one neighbor supposedly yelling, “I am the chosen one. Let’s go to the promised land,” while carrying a Bible.

Police who arrived on the scene on St. Mary’s Avenue say they found Aiello trying to herd his family into a minivan. After a confrontation with officers in which he allegedly asked them, “Do you believe in God?” police claim Aiello fired off two shots then tried to escape in another car. Reports say his wife jumped in the passenger’s seat to try to stop him.

This is where things get iffy.

According to police, Aiello shot at them again and they returned fired. But Aiello’s lawyer, Pete Antioco, says the suspect’s wife grabbed the gun and tossed it away from the car, then screamed at police to stop firing because they’d already killed Aiello. While this possibility may be little more than a split hair, considering that no one’s arguing that Aiello was armed and a little off the deep end, it may hint that the groundwork’s already being laid for some sort of wrongful death lawsuit. Antioco’s basically claiming that the police used excessive force to bring down his client. On the other side, there’s speculation that Aiello may have purposely forced police to kill him — an act known as “suicide by cop.”

Aiello had been a bodyguard for jeweler Louis Antonelli — who was shot and killed back in April in what investigators think was a mob-ordered hit — and was under federal investigation.

Funeral services for Aiello will be held later this week.

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