A Recent History of NYPD Brutality Sheepshead Bay

David Cotto

Date: March 1990

David Cotto, 20, was killed inside his family's Brooklyn apartment in Sheepshead Bay after officers fired 11 shots, striking him nine times. Family members initially called the police because Cotto was reportedly holding two knives, threatening to kill himself. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Cotto holding one of the knives to his own throat. Cotto's sister said that he grabbed the knife after running downstairs following a fight that broke out during a card game with Carl Billeci. According to Cotto's sister, he said Billeci was going to "kill him." Police convinced him to drop the knives, but Cotto quickly ran to the kitchen and retrieved two other knives and a fork. When he refused to drop those, Sgt. Vincent Guzzo sprayed mace in his eyes.

According to the police report, Cotto lunged at officers, prompting Officers Joseph Galli and Patrick Balsamo to discharge their weapons. Cotto's sister and father maintain that he never lunged at police, that he dropped the knives to rub his burning eyes and staggered blindly towards them. They added that, at one point during the incident, Cotto said he'd rather kill himself than die at the hands of police.

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