Police kill man with pellet gun

Police released this photo of a pellet gun, which they say was recovered at the scene. Photo courtesy NYPD
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A 42-year-old man with a lengthy rap sheet was shot and killed in Ridgewood Saturday night after he pulled an illegal pellet gun on two undercover cops while they were arresting a suspected drug dealer, the Police Department said.

It all happened around 10:45 Saturday night when two plainclothes detectives, who had been with the department for nearly 10 years, were arresting Nolan Rivera in a buy-and-bust operation near the corner of Gates and Seneca avenues, NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne said.

That was when Victor Santos stepped out of a livery cab and drew a Walther CP99 compressed air pistol, designed to resemble a Glock 19 semi-automatic and illegal in New York City, from his waistband and pointed it at the officers, Browne said.

Rivera, who later told police he recognized Santos from the neighborhood but did not know him personally, yelled out, “They’re cops, you idiot!”

The detectives drew their weapons and fired off six shots, striking Santos three times in the leg and torso, police said. Browne said both officers had their police shields displayed.

David Treutle said he was sitting in his apartment watching “Law & Order: SVU” when he heard gunshots ring out on the street below.

He said that about 15 minutes later the intersection was mobbed with police cars and he watched as Santos’ motionless body was moved into an ambulance.

“Once I saw that happen, I knew he was down and dead,” Treutle said.

Police said the victim was taken to Wyckoff Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The police said Santos had 39 prior arrests mainly for drugs and multiple robbery, assault and weapons charges as well as four arrests by the Miami-Dade Florida Police Department.

Rivera was not injured in the incident and was taken to the hospital for observation after he allegedly swallowed what police believed to be crack cocaine, according to the NYPD.

He was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of marijuana, police said.

This was the first police-involved shooting for both detectives, one of whom fired five rounds from his Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol and the other, who shot one round from his Glock 19, Browne said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 4:50 pm, December 12, 2012
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Reader feedback

William from Beach says:
I don't blame the police on this one. Pellet guns can easily be confused for the real deal and in a split second decision, what are you going to do? There are a lot of sites advising on this and promoting education such as it is sad this happened, but the officer made a difficult decision in a split second.
Dec. 14, 2012, 3:51 pm

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