NYPD cop knelt on teen’s back, fired gun but is still on force: court docs

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An NYPD officer lied for almost a decade about the circumstances of a 2009 Bronx shooting in which he straddled a teenager and fired into his lower back at “point-blank” range, according to newly unearthed court documents.

Officer Danny Acosta allegedly peddled a phony story for years, lying under oath by claiming that the teen suspect had been holding a gun to his female partner’s head before he shot him from 10 feet away.

Acosta, 41, finally admitted the tale was bogus five years ago to a city Law Department attorney while falsely believing the confession was privileged, according to court papers.

Despite his stunning admission and the fact that he’s now battling perjury charges, Acosta remains on the NYPD payroll and may even be allowed to quietly retire with his pension, The Post has learned.

The contested narrative of that October 2009 night has never before been publicly reported. Neither have the nearly half-million-dollar civil settlement paid out to the teen suspect nor the 16-count criminal indictment brought against Acosta in The Bronx.

Ironically, the shocking details were only revealed after Acosta’s lawyer filed a federal lawsuit last month to delay the NYPD’s disciplinary process against his client.

Acosta told The Post in a phone call Friday that he couldn’t remember parts of the shooting, only that he “was terrified” and blamed the city for his criminal charge.

“They want to make me the bad guy now. … They wanted to find the reason why they settled for half-a-million,” he said.

The criminal case against the cop, who spent years on the NYPD’s controversial anti-crime unit, stems from the police shooting around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2009, inside a stairwell at the Gouverneur Morris Houses in Claremont.

He and his partner, Laura Barbato, recounted in civil-suit depositions a harrowing story of how they chased an armed 17-year-old Peter Colon up the stairs of the complex.

According to their testimony, the teen dropped the gun during the chase and Barbato picked it up.

Barbato said Colon hit her in the face multiple times as she tried to wrestle him down — while still holding the discarded firearm in her hand, court documents state.

At one point, she fell on her back, dropping the gun, and Colon picked up the pistol, the officers testified.

The teen then stood over her, wrapped his left hand around the 25-year-old cop’s throat and pressed a gun to her head with his right hand, according to the cops’ testimony.

Acosta said he pulled out his own gun from about 10 feet away and fired off two rounds, striking Colon once in the lower back, court docs say.

The cops, who both had two years on the job, then arrested Colon and charged him with assault and weapons charges.

NYPD Officer Danny Acosta allegedly shot from point blank range while on Peter Colon's back.
NYPD Officer Danny Acosta allegedly shot from point blank range while on Peter Colon’s back.
Christopher Sadowski

The narrative, recounted in the officers’ 2015 depositions given as part of a civil lawsuit Colon filed, was the same one they said they told a grand jury back in 2009 and which was provided to the press after the shooting.

Colon’s criminal case, though, fell apart after Acosta refused to testify before a second grand jury unless he was given immunity against prosecution, court records show.

Colon’s civil lawsuit progressed, and in 2016, an NYPD laboratory analysis report from the time of the shooting surfaced in the suit — contradicting the cop’s story that he shot the suspect from about 10 feet away, the records say.

The report, which was obtained by The Post, states the gunshot residue patterns in Colon’s jacket where he was shot were “consistent with contact/near contact shot,” meaning he was hit at close range.

The assertion triggered Acosta’s admission to an attorney with the city’s Law Department, who was repping the city in the civil lawsuit against it involving Colon, that he’d had been lying about the shooting, court docs say.

Acosta thought his conversation with the Law Department attorney was confidential, which it wasn’t.

Acosta’s lawyer sought suppress his confession as protected under attorney-client privilege.

But Bronx Supreme Court Judge Ralph Fabrizio rebuffed the move in a March 2019 ruling.

“More than a year after [Acosta’s] deposition, he revealed to his Law Department lawyer that he was actually straddling Mr. Colon’s back when he placed the muzzle of his weapon to Mr. Colon’s back and struck him at ‘point-blank’ range,” Fabrizio wrote.

“He told his lawyer that he had testified in this manner because, in substance, he did not believe his supervisors at the NYPD would think this was a ‘good shoot.’ ”

That narrative lined up closer with the suspect’s recounting of the incident.

Colon said in his deposition, two years before the NYPD lab report was turned over to his lawyer, that Acosta had knelt on him after the chase and the teen started struggling.

Acosta then “said ‘motherf–ker’ and shot,” his testimony reads.

Neither cop had testified that Acosta fired his gun while on top of Colon.

Acosta told The Post on Friday that he now remembers kneeling on Colon’s back.

He said the teen pointed a gun at him while lying face down but that he didn’t shoot.

“I don’t remember that s–t,” the cop said of the ordeal.

When asked about the forensic report, Acosta snapped, “You’re gonna tell me the evidence came back in 2016 when the shooting happened in 2009?”

He suggested that the resurfacing of the report was “just to f–k me.”

He also denied confessing to the Law Department attorney, adding, “The f–king Corporation Counsel lawyer f–ked me.

“This f–king guy calls me, says, ‘I’m not going to release what we talk about here,’ and the first thing he did was tell the job,” Acosta said, referring to the NYPD.

The cop was indicted in October 2018 on six counts of perjury, six counts of official misconduct, three counts of obstructing governmental administration and tampering with public records.

Neither the NYPD nor the Bronx District Attorney’s Office publicized the arrest or indictment of Acosta at the time.

Neither entity could explain to The Post why the charges were not announced, as is common practice with city employees arrested in the five boroughs.

It was unclear why Barbato, who retired last year and provided similar testimony, except that she only heard one gunshot, was not charged with anything. She did not return calls.

Acosta said he was initially suspended without pay for 30 days after the indictment but has continued to get a full paycheck since. He is currently suspended with pay, a police rep confirmed.

As he fought the indictment in 2020, Acosta pulled in $97,965, city records show.

He accepted a “negotiated plea agreement” with the NYPD on Feb. 9 allowing for early retirement from the force, his lawyer confirmed.

The retirement deal was made just five days after Police Commissioner Dermot Shea touted the department’s “historic event” for transparency with a new set of disciplinary guidelines.

A police spokeswoman refused to say if Acosta’s deal would allow him to collect his pension and a “good guy” letter, an official note from the NYPD saying you left in good standing and can continue to carry a gun.

“The NYPD has been working with the Bronx District Attorney on the criminal investigation while we have been going forward with an internal investigation,” the rep said.

Acosta, who is due back in court for his criminal case April 20, said his retirement deal was still being worked out.

A prior deal struck with the Bronx DA by his union lawyer would have allowed Acosta to retire with his pension if he pleaded guilty to one of the felony charges, according to his now-counsel, William Martin.

Martin, who took over after Acosta dismissed the PBA lawyer, claims the trauma from the shooting caused the cop to misremember the events.

Colon’s lawsuit was settled in 2017 for $475,000, city records show. He could not be reached for comment.

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