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Lasana Philbert, 21, of 117-36 229th St., was found guilty of assault on a police officer in a June 14, 2005 incident in which 105th Precinct Police Officer Christopher Wiesnewski's gun went off during a struggle for the weapon in a Cambria Heights park, Brown said.Before Philbert was apprehended, the 105th Precinct conducted a sweep in Cambria Heights that led to the arrest of 181 black men and outrage in the community. The detainments were mostly on quality-of-life offenses.The trial, held in Queens Supreme Court before Queens Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lewis, lasted two weeks and ended Jan.24, the DA said.Wiesnewski saw Philbert sitting on a park bench carrying marijuana when he went over to Philbert, Brown said. The Cambria Heights man then lunged for the officer's gun, which went off during the altercation and a bullet struck Wiesnewski's left knee and lower leg, the DA said.Philbert faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced before Lewis Feb. 8, Brown said.Kevin Jemmott, who was president of the Cambria Heights Civic Association at the time of the incident, reserved judgment on Philbert back then and appeared not to have full confidence that the right man was found guilty."You hate to see people's lives destroyed, but if he's the one who shot (Wiesnewski), he has to pay for the crime," Jemmott said.Most Cambria Heights residents believed the officer shot himself accidentally with his gun and pinned it on a black man to cover his tracks, according to Jemmott and some of those who live in the area. "The Police Department has a bad name in our community," Jemmott said, noting that he did not blame Philbert for the distress that 181 others had to go through during the sweeps."He's not responsible for the police breaking the law," Jemmott said.Wiesnewski was forced to retire after the incident and is collecting a disability pension, according to a DA spokeswoman.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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