Off-Duty Cop Nabbed For Road Rage Killing


Off-duty police Officer Sean Sawyer made a startling revelation early yesterday, approaching a patrol car and admitting he fired the shot that killed a young father in an East Harlem road rage confrontation Sunday, police sources said.The shooting, however, may have been in self-defense, with a friend of victim Jayson Tirado saying Tirado pretended he had a gun, fashioning one out of his thumb and forefinger and saying, "You want to see Mr. Ruger?" the sources said."To the best of the information we have now, the victim who was shot made a reference to the fact that he had a gun, and then pointed his hand towards the driver of the other car," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Tirado, 25, was shot on First Avenue after he apparently got into a fight with Sawyer as they navigated a traffic jam on Harlem River Drive.Sawyer, 34, was released from police custody last night. He was suspended without pay and his gun and badge were taken away. At the very least, the sources said, he faces departmental charges for fleeing the scene and waiting 19 hours to report what happened.Tirado's family wants Sawyer behind bars."He killed him like a reckless teenager, shooting him through the window, abandoning my son, letting him die," said Tirado's mother, Irene Tirado, 54, of the Lower East Side. "Now, I find out he's a police officer."But Sawyer's brother, Christopher, 36, called his brother "a hero by nature." "He's a good cop," said Christopher, who lives in the same Manhattan Valley apartment building as his brother. "It's a clean shooting. You do not reach down into your car on a New York City police officer in this city. My brother did his job."Tirado's shooting was still being investigated when Sawyer, a four-year veteran assigned to Queens narcotics, stepped out of his home about 1 a.m. yesterday and approached a sergeant in a patrol car at Central Park West and West 102nd Street.He was overcome with guilt, the sources said, and felt like he was about to have a heart attack. He told the sergeant he was an officer, he was having chest pains and needed medical attention.A short time later, police said, Sawyer told the sergeant he had fired his gun Sunday during a confrontation.That shooting, police sources said, followed a road rage incident on Harlem River Drive sparked by an apparent act of machismo, with Tirado pretending he was armed.Tirado, it turns out, was unarmed, but Sawyer opened fire from his Nissan Xterra, the sources said. Tirado, behind the wheel of his Honda Civic, was struck under the right arm, Kelly said. The victim managed to drive off, but collapsed behind the wheel three blocks north. He was taken to nearby Harlem Hospital and died minutes later."All he did was threaten our lives and shoot," said Jason Batista, 21, who was in the car. "It was a reckless act. The officer never pulled out a badge. He never said, 'I'm a cop.' If he would have said he was a cop, none of this would have happened."Neither Batista nor another passenger, Anthony Mencia, 23 - who said he was too drunk to recall what happened - was hurt. Kelly said it appears all three had been drinking.The circumstances surrounding the shooting played out during the inevitable tensions that arise during a Manhattan traffic jam, in this case one caused by a motorcycle crash on the southbound Harlem River Drive, near the East 116th Street exit.Sawyer, trying to exit the drive, got angry because he felt Tirado was blocking his path. There were words, the sources said, then both drivers exited and headed north on First Avenue. A block later, the sources said, Tirado cut Sawyer off.Tirado lived in the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side with his girlfriend and daughter, Jayleen, 5."I don't know what I'm going to tell her," his mother said.The officer lives with his wife, Monique, and two toddler sons. His brother said he pursued a career as an entertainer before becoming a cop. Recently, the officer and his wife bought a home in Queens.

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