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Police: Off-Duty Cop Fatally Shoots Man In Brooklyn Road Rage Incident

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An apparent road rage incident involving an off-duty NYPD officer turned deadly early Monday morning.

The officer was stopped at a red light after a traffic dispute when a 38-year-old driver attacked the officer, who was seated in his personal car, by repeatedly punching him in the head through an open window, police said.

The officer pulled out his gun and shot three times at the other driver, striking him in the head. He was shot in front of his wife and two children. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron reported.

Family members identified the victim to CBS2's Magdalena Doris as Delrawn Small. They said he wasn't armed and should still be alive today.

Delrawn Small
Delrawn Small (credit: Handout Photo)

"His wife was in the car with him. His two kids were there," said Victor Dempsey, the victim's brother. "They were going to see fireworks up by whatever park is in the neighborhood.

"It has to stop. It's not right that they just get a gun and a badge and they can do what they want to do," Victor Dempsey continued.

CBS2's Christine Sloan reported the incident happened just before midnight on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where Small was visiting childhood friends at a barbershop to celebrate the holiday weekend.

Small's friend said the officer was "out of control."

"My brother was a loving, kind father. He was out here working trying to provide for his family and he was killed in front of his family by a cop out here out of control," Keith said.

Dempsey's family, their lawyer Roger Wareham and New York City Councilman Charles Barron returned to the scene later Monday morning for a news conference, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

"He could have rolled up his window, he could have driven away," Wareham said. "He did not have to shoot him."

"Take off. Roll up your window. Avoid any kind of confrontation," Barron said of the off-duty cop, comments echoed by the family's attorney. "For him to discharge his weapon three times and take one's life over some kind of verbal confrontation is outrageous. We are demanding justice."

The officer, whose name has not been released, claims his life was in danger, police said.

"I'm here, and I'm distraught because I know he's a great man," Victor Dempsey said of his brother. "This is somebody that I looked up to. This is somebody that pushed me to do better, the same way I pushed him to do better. It hurts to see them going so far and doing so much to just get stopped dead in your tracks, literally."

The family said they're concerned they may not get all of the answers they are looking for.

"It hurts more when it is by the hands of someone that's supposed to be protecting us," Victor Dempsey said. "Now all I'm seeing is them protecting themselves."

The New York State Attorney General's office said it is actively reviewing the case.

"Members of the Attorney Genera's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit are in contact with the NYPD, the victim's family, and community leaders. SIPU has a search warrant for the officer's car and is actively reviewing the case," Eric Soufer, spokesman for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement.

The off-duty officer, a three-year veteran assigned to the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, is recovering at Jamaica Hospital from cuts and bruises to his head and face. There have been no charges filed.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday afternoon that the cop had just finished a shift and was likely headed home at the time of the incident. Police believe he used his service weapon in the shooting.

"It's much, much too early to draw any conclusions at this time," Bratton said. "It is a protocol that our Force Investigation Division will do a very comprehensive initial investigation. We're gathering a lot of video from the area, cameras that we were able to identify. We have talked with the officer."

Police won't say what the original dispute was that led to the confrontation. Police are not releasing anymore information until the NYPD's Force Investigation Division determines exactly what happened.

CBS2 reached out to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association for comment on behalf of the officer, but has not heard back.

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