Former Town of Eastchester Police Officer James Pileggi was convicted of second degree manslaughter by a Westchester County jury on October 5, 2011. Pileggi, 30, was charged in the November 3, 2009 killing of his friend Andre Everett in the driveway of Everett’s residence in New Rochelle, New York. Pileggi, who was off-duty at the time, was apparently trying to show Everett a laser device on his 9 mm Glock 26 when the gun discharged, and Mr. Everett suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the throat. He was pronounced dead at Sound Shore Hospital in New Rochelle.
Pileggi claimed that he believed that the gun was not loaded and that he had inspected the weapon to ensure it was safe. The Westchester D.A. argued to the jury that Mr. Pileggi had disregarded his training in pulling the trigger on a weapon with three other people in close proximity. They further contended that Pileggi showed conscious disregard for the safety of others and was trying to avoid accountability for his recklessness.
Pileggi had been with the Eastchester Police Department for 6 years. Several days after the shooting, he resigned from the department.
The original trial of this case in March of 2011 ended in a hung jury with 10 of the 12 jurors voting for conviction. In a criminal trial, the verdict must be unanimous, whereas in a civil trial for money damages, liability can be established against a defendant with 5 out of 6 jurors in agreement.
Second degree manslaughter under Section 125.15 (1) of the Penal Law of the State of New York is defined as: “recklessly causes the death of another person.” Second degree manslaughter is a Class C felony, with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. After the conviction, Mr. Pileggi’s attorneys had requested that he be allowed to remain free on $50,000 bail, arguing that he had no criminal history and had been early for every Court appearance. However, Judge Barbara Zambelli disregarded this application and ordered that Pileggi be immediately transferred to the Westchester County jail until his sentencing on January 17, 2012.
The judge could sentence Mr. Pileggi to five years probation with time served, but it is likely that Judge Zambelli will sentence Pileggi to some jail time. There is also the likelihood that the family members of Andre Everett will commence a wrongful death suit for compensation against James Pileggi, particularly if Mr. Everett was providing financial support to either a wife, children, or parents. The other viable claim for civil damages would be for the loss of parental guidance if Mr. Everett did have children at the time of his death. However, under New York law, a family member cannot sue for the deceased’s pain and suffering, which claim dies with the death of that person, nor can they make a claim for mental and emotional pain suffered due to the death of a family member.
If you or a loved one is charged with a felony, misdemeanor or a violation, contact the Westchester County Criminal Defense Lawyers online or toll free at 914-224-3086 for a free initial consultation to discuss the charges against you, and your legal rights and options.