BROOKLYN — A 21-year-old man accused of shooting a police officer at point-blank range in the head was charged Thursday with attempted murder in a courtroom full of police officers.
Luis Ortiz barely spoke at his arraignment in Brooklyn on a charge he tried to kill 29-year-old Officer Kevin Brennan on Tuesday. In court, prosecutor Lewis Lieberman called the shooting “an evil act by an evil person.” Ortiz was held without bail.
“This was an assassination attempt by this defendant against Officer Brennan, who showed Herculean strength in not firing his weapon,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman said ballistics tests showed that the bullet that struck Brennan matches a gun found outside the apartment where Ortiz was apprehended.
But defense attorney Eric Poulos said there’s no proof his client fired the gun. The criminal complaint, the official document charging Ortiz with a crime, states only that the two were struggling on the ground, and a gun went off. He criticized the prosecution’s statements as overly theatrical.
“This isn’t an effort to do an arraignment, this is a political speech,” he said.
Scores of officers filled the courtroom, which fell silent as Ortiz was walked out. He was told at least twice to face the judge, and his family wasn’t present.
Poulos said police beat up his client twice, at the scene and at the precinct, and that he had the bruises and chipped tooth to prove it. Ortiz has a lengthy record with at least 14 arrests and had been wanted for questioning in New York City’s first killing of 2012, on New Year’s Day. No arrests have been made in that case.
Police officials said Brennan and two other plainclothes officers were responding to a report of shots fired at a public housing development when they encountered three people running from a building.
Ortiz was suspected of firing two rounds at someone, which brought the officers to the scene Tuesday, police have said. He fled, and Brennan pursued him around the back of the building at the Bushwick Houses development, where the two squeezed through an open emergency exit before it shut behind them. The two other officers who responded with Brennan were trapped outside.
Surveillance video showed Brennan in a headlock, then being shot in an alcove and lying unmoving while the suspect flees.
Brennan is expected to recover.
Ortiz was caught nearby about two hours later at an apartment where his uncle was staying, police said. The revolver was found outside of the windows of the building on the ground.
His next court date is Feb. 6.