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Officer: Suspect Shot 23 Times Ignited 46-Bullet Storm By Firing First

Officer: Suspect Shot 23 Times Ignited 46-Bullet Storm By Firing First

Angel Alvarez, who survived 23 bullet wounds, in court earlier this week. [AP]

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

August 19, 2010

NEW YORK CITY – An NYPD officer who opened fire during a Harlem melee told fellow cops a suspect who ended up with 23 bullet wounds shot first.

“The guy shot at me,” Officer Douglas Brightman told Sgt. Brian Duffy moments after the Aug. 8 shooting, a source said. “And I fired back.”

A second cop, Sgt. Philip Terpos, said Brightman told him the same story: “He shot at me.”

Brightman, who fired two 9-mm. bullets, was referring to Angel Alvarez, an ex-con who cops say wrestled away a revolver during a dispute with a rival and then started shooting.

Four cops then fired a total of 46 shots. Alvarez’s fight rival Luis Soto was killed, and three bystanders and two other cops were hit by gunfire.

While police arrested Alvarez, 24, for attempted murder, prosecutors did not seek to arraign him on that charge this week, citing lack of evidence.

Sources said prosecutors plan to upgrade charges after they strike an immunity agreement for grand jury testimony by police officers who say they saw Alvarez fire on cops.

Brightman has not yet given a statement to NYPD investigators.

Duffy and Terpos are two of 23 cops on the scene who did not fire their weapons and who were interviewed.

Their accounts, in combination with the accounts of civilian witnesses, form a still-developing narrative of the bloody chaos on Lenox Ave.

Matthew Galluzzo, Alvarez’s lawyer, contends that what Brightman told the sergeants lacks credibility because “his badge is on the line.”

“Police have given different stories throughout this case,” Galluzzo said. “They’ve been all over the map. It makes it clear they don’t know what happened.”

He claims Alvarez never fired the gun and was shot twice by Soto, 21, before cops repeatedly plugged him.

Another police witness, Officer Railya Frias, told investigators that he saw Alvarez run out of a playground and confront Soto.

The two men “squared off” like they were going to fight, and as Frias approached, he heard two shots ring out – followed seconds later by a fusillade of dozens of shots, sources said.

The NYPD, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and lawyers for the cops had no comment.

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