A Long Island man was shot and killed by Suffolk, NY, police in a SWAT-style raid on an alleged marijuana sales operation on April 19. Jose Colon, 20, who was neither armed nor in possession of any drugs, was standing on the porch of a North Bellport residence when a bullet from the 9-mm submachine gun of officer Tony Gonzalez struck him in the head, killing him instantly. Police said the shooting was accidental, explaining at a press conference the next day that an officer carrying a battering ram tripped over a tree root, bumping Gonzales and causing his weapon to discharge at least three bullets.
For Colon, it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was taking his pregnant girlfriend out to dinner, and stopped at the house to repay a $20 debt while she waited in the car, friends told Newsday. Suddenly the seedy house in the rundown neighborhood was surrounded by heavily-armed and -armored members of the Suffolk County Police Department's "Emergency Services" SWAT team, advancing with guns drawn as a police helicopter appeared and thundered overhead. That's when Colon and his companion, Aaron Hatcher, walked out the front door.
Although police said the shooting was accidental, they could not resist the temptation to try to implicate Colon in his own death. According to Suffolk Police Chief Philip Robiletto, Colon and Hatcher were coming out the front door of the house as the police raiders approached. The two young men were instructed to drop to the ground, said Robiletto. "He was asked a number of times 'show your hands, drop to the floor,'" the chief explained. "He didn't, and that's when the accident occurred."
Colon was a member of the Victory Church of God in Bellport and was working at the Jiffy-Lube as he competed his final semester of coursework at Briarcliff College, where he was in line for an associate degree in computer graphics. The college told Newsday it will award the degree to his parents at graduation ceremonies next month.
"They killed an innocent kid," Colon's sister Eva told Newsday. "This is a nightmare. I can't stop shaking. I can't believe they killed my brother."
Police said they found between a half-pound and a pound of marijuana in the house, as well as a rifle. They arrested four men on marijuana possession charges, including Hatcher, and also charged Hatcher with possession of the rifle. Per Suffolk County policy, the shooting will be investigated by the District Attorney, who will decide whether to bring the matter before a grand jury.