Friday, April 18, 2014

Police seize surveillance system in fatal shooting case

Jonathan K. Garay was killed during a scuffle with cops, search warrant says

October 11. 2013 12:13AM

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HAZLETON — State police at Hazleton investigating the deadly shooting of a man by a Hazleton police officer seized a home’s surveillance recording system, according to search warrant affidavits.

The affidavits identify Michael Colasardo as the officer involved in the shooting. He has been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.

State police said Hazleton police officers were dispatched to a fight near Second and Alter streets at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. When police arrived, a bystander told officers Jonathan K. Garay, 26, of Alter Street, had a gun and was leaving the scene in a hurry.

The affidavits say Colasardo and officer Scott Nicholas pursued Garay, who was spotted running through a gate to the rear of 521 Alter St. Colasardo and Nicholas made contact with Garay, who was allegedly in possession of a silver and black handgun in his waistband, the affidavits say.

Nicholas physically grabbed Garay as the handgun fell to the porch floor, according to the affidavits.

State police said in the affidavits Garay “dove for the weapon between the two officers.”

Garay grabbed the handgun from the floor and tried to raise it towards the officers. Colasardo fired two rounds from his duty weapon at Garay, hitting him twice, the affidavit says.

Garay was transported to Hazleton General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

State police said the home at 521 Alter St., where Garay resided, is monitored by a home surveillance system. The recording device was located inside 523 Alter St., owned by Garay’s sister, Veronica Garay.

Inventory receipts for the search warrants indicate state police seized a NightHawk hard drive digital recorder, a .45 caliber shell casing from rear steps, a second .45 caliber shell casing from rear porch, two blood stained shirts from the kitchen, a 9mm pistol from kitchen floor, blood-stained shorts from a first-floor bedroom, blood spatter from a kitchen floor, a spent round found under the rear porch and a board with a hole from the rear porch floor.

Court records say Colasardo, when he was off-duty, was assaulted by Ricardo A. Sanchez, 25, in the parking lot of Two Guys Pizzeria on West Diamond Avenue, Hazleton, on May 16, 2010. Sanchez is a member of the Hispanic gang Trinitarios, court records say.

Arrest papers say Colasardo was leaving the pizzeria with friends and asked a group of people to move their cars. A fight ensued in which Sanchez and others kicked and punched Colasardo, who suffered a broken orbital bone and other facial injuries. Nicholas was the first responding officer at the pizzeria.

Sanchez on Sept. 2, 2011, was convicted by a Luzerne County jury of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and simple assault and sentenced to six to 12 years in state prison.

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