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A Long Island man who was shot in the eye while intoxicated while attempting to break into the home of an off-duty NYPD officer has sued the officer, the city and the NYPD for $35 million for his “disfiguring” injuries.
Rinaldo Laviolette, 27, now has a titanium plate on his head and underwent two surgeries after the March 5 incident in West Babylon, according to his lawyer.
Laviolette, a restaurant manager, was at a party on 7th Street when he grabbed the wrong wallet on his way out, he said.
Long Island man shot in eye by off-duty NYPD cop sues for $35M: Rinaldo Laviolette, 27, now has a titanium plate in his head and has undergone two surgeries following the March 5 incident. https://t.co/ZAM4M68ncG pic.twitter.com/Ljfigc7KET
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐮𝐧𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@SunDispatch) July 30, 2022
He soon realized his mistake and claimed he was trying to return the item when at 3:30 a.m. he approached a house on 5th Street and attempted to enter it, believing this was the house he came from, therefore a federal court in the Manhattan case.
NYPD Detective Douglas DeOtto, 42, believed Laviolette was trying to enter and opened fire, hitting him in the right eye.
The young man claims that he “did not threaten anyone” and “made a manifest error”.
“How the hell did Det. DeOtto get away with it in the wee hours of the morning with this person on his doorstep?” said James Moschella, an attorney with the Detectives Endowment Association who is representing DeOtto in law enforcement investigations into the shooting.
DeOtto was woken up by someone “not only knocking on his door, but going out of his way to get into the house,” said Moschella, who is not representing DeOtto in the lawsuit.
Laviolette “knocked on the door for several minutes, at least five minutes, and when it didn’t work, he tried to hold the handle and use force,” the attorney said.
DeOtto “was more than reasonable in concluding that this person would not stop until she was home, and at that time with a wife and two children upstairs, he could only assume the worse,” he added.
“This person has no one to blame for his actions that night but himself,” Moschella said.
Laviolette lost his eye and suffered brain damage; According to court documents, his skull was “crushed” and his “psyche permanently scarred”.
“The bullet practically destroyed and disfigured the entire side of his face,” attorney Daniel Solinsky told the Post.
DeOtto, who works in the 115th Ward in Jackson Heights, Queens, has not been charged in the incident, Suffolk County Police said this week.
The detective “knew or should have known that there was no reasonable basis for the use of such force,” according to the lawsuit.
Laviolette hasn’t been able to work since the accident and faces “astronomical” medical bills, said Solinsky, who declined to estimate how much Laviolette’s treatment might cost.
Laviolette seeks $25 million in damages plus an additional $10 million in punitive damages.
The NYPD declined to comment.