NEW YORK (AP) — An ex-con with a long criminal record pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in last month's killing of a New York Police Department officer while 100 fellow officers stood watch in the courtroom.
Demetrius Blackwell faces a 12-count indictment in the shooting death of 25-year-old Officer Brian Moore, the third NYPD officer slain on duty in five months. Moore was shot twice in the head May 2 and lingered in a coma before dying two days later.
Many of the officers in the courtroom for Blackwell's arraignment wore T-shirts that said: "In memory of P.O. Brian Moore. ... Heroes get remembered but legends never die."
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch and Moore's father were seated in the second row of the courtroom gallery.
"That animal should be in a cage, and I wish New York had a death penalty because I'd pull the switch myself," the victim's father, Raymond Moore, a police officer himself, said afterward.
Police said Brian Moore and his partner had approached Blackwell that night after they saw him adjusting his waistband. Authorities said Blackwell refused to stop, turned and fired at the officers, striking Moore.
Afterward, the 35-year-old Blackwell stole a T-shirt and sneakers to alter his appearance, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He was also found with cocaine and marijuana, Brown said.
"Officer Moore was a young police officer with a bright and promising future whose life was senselessly cut short far too soon," Brown said at a news conference earlier Thursday. "His death is a somber and costly reminder of the dangers that our police officers face each day as they carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities."
Blackwell's attorney, David Bart, has said that his client "has no particular animus toward police officers" and that he "emphatically denies" the charges against him.
The indictment includes aggravated murder, second-degree murder, attempted murder, weapon possession, drug and stolen property charges.
"The defendant's alleged conduct — and his total disregard for the law and authority — clearly demonstrate that he is a serious threat to society," Brown told reporters.
If convicted, Blackwell could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors will not offer him a plea deal, Brown said.
At Blackwell's initial arraignment last month while Moore lay mortally wounded, prosecutors said he told police he is known by the nickname "Hellraiser" on the street.
State corrections records show Blackwell was convicted in 2001 of attempted murder after he pointed a gun at an occupant of a car during a robbery attempt and then fired shots at the vehicle. He served five years behind bars and was sent back to prison for violating parole in 2007. He was released again in 2008.
Authorities said Blackwell was also arrested in 2013 after he grabbed an NYPD detective's badge and spit at him.