An unarmed Brooklyn man waiting for a taxicab was shot and killed outside a bar on Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan early yesterday in a scuffle with three undercover narcotics detectives, the authorities said.
The details of the shooting were sketchy last night and there were conflicting accounts of the episode. But a senior investigator and a man who saw the scuffle said the dead man, Patrick M. Dorismond, 26, who worked as a security guard for the 34th Street Partnership, was angered when one of the undercover detectives approached him and sought to buy drugs.
The witness, Kevin Kaiser, who worked with Mr. Dorismond, said he and Mr. Dorismond did not know that the detectives who approached them — all in plain clothes — were police officers. Deputy Chief Thomas Fahey, a police spokesman, acknowledged that the police ”have no indication” that Mr. Dorismond knew.
But a lawyer for Anthony Vasquez, the detective who fired the fatal shot, said his client yelled ”Police!” after the scuffle began and before the shot was fired.
It was unclear whether Detective Vasquez, 29, who has been on the force for five years, fired intentionally or by accident. The shooting is being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and by the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau.
The shooting was the third in 13 months in which plainclothes officers shot and killed an unarmed man. It came just as tensions that rose with the acquittal of four officers in the shooting of Amadou Diallo and another fatal shooting by the police a week later had begun to ebb.
Like the earlier two incidents, this shooting involved a black victim. Detective Vasquez and his two partners are Hispanic.
According to Mr. Kaiser’s account, the three men closed in after Mr. Dorismond first responded to the undercover detective’s request for drugs, and then the argument escalated.
By different accounts, the argument lasted from 15 seconds to three minutes, but Mr. Kaiser (the witness who worked with Mr. Dorismond) said he and Mr. Dorismond never knew the men who were confronting them were the police. ”Patrick and one of the officers get real loud with each other, and one of the officers swings at him first,” Mr. Kaiser said. ”Patrick proceeded to swing back, and that’s when the shot let out.”
”The last memory I have of this man is him rolling on the ground, gasping for air, with blood coming out of his mouth,” Mr. Kaiser said of Mr. Dorismond.
*Originally published on New York Times.