WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A former New York Police Department officer who randomly fired 14 shots into another car after downing 10 alcoholic beverages while off-duty was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in prison.
Brendan Cronin pleaded guilty in September to attempted murder, assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.
Joseph Felice and Robert Borrelli, New Rochelle residents heading home from a recreational hockey game, were stopped at a red light in Pelham when Cronin got out of his parked car and started firing at them on April 29, 2014.
Felice was hit six times. Borrelli hunkered down, thinking he'd be killed. Physically unharmed, he rushed his friend to the hospital.
Cronin told investigators he'd downed 10 drinks — beer and whiskey — after a day of training at a police shooting range.
Felice described in his victim-impact statement how the shooting has affected him and his family.
"We have always told our son if something happens, go to the police, as it is their job to protect you," Felice said. "How do I explain to my son that Mr. Cronin, a police officer, tried to kill me for absolutely no reason?"
Borrelli said he's plagued by survivor's guilt and memories of Felice gasping for air and the whites of his eyes as he lost consciousness.
Felice's mental replay of the shooting includes the popping sounds and "excruciating burn" as bullets ripped through his chest, arm, shoulder, wrist, thumb and back.
One bullet, still lodged in his chest, "is a constant reminder of my terror," he said.
His hospital memories include "doctors and nurses scrambling frantically to save my life ... urgently yelling out instructions to move quickly. ... Hearing the gurgling of my blood filling up my lungs and stifling my breath."
He said a doctor told him he was drowning in his own blood. He recalled crying out: "You have to save me! I have a 3-year-old!"
He couldn't see his child until he was transferred to a rehabilitation center. Once there, his battered appearance left his young son "petrified," he said.
"He stayed glued to my wife's leg," Felice recalled. "My heart sank. He was afraid of me, his daddy."
He said his physical wounds are healing, but he still has emotional scars.
"I am truly sorry," Cronin said at his sentencing. "I will continue to pray for forgiveness and mercy."
"You will receive no forgiveness from me," said Borrelli. "Forgiveness is between you and God."
Felice and Borrelli are suing the city.
"Now that the criminal case has concluded we are turning our attention to holding the city of New York responsible for the violent and foreseeable acts of defendant Cronin," attorney Randolph McLaughlin said in a statement.
The city's law department said it would not comment on pending litigation.