Nassau District Attorney's Office to reinvestigate 1998 Hempstead police-involved shooting
Prosecutors announced that they will be taking a second look into the Hempstead police-involved shooting that left a mentally ill Black man dead in 1998.
It happened in July of that year near Windsor Parkway. The district attorney at the time, Denis Dillon, said the officer's use of deadly force was justified, but current District Attorney Madeline Singas is giving the case another look after 22 years.
The shooting resulted in the death of 28-year-old Paul Maxwell, a Black Hempstead man who had a history of mental illness. According to Nassau homicide investigators, Hempstead police got a call shortly after 9 a.m. with a report of a naked man on the street.
They say when officers arrived, they found Maxwell carrying a baseball bat, which he used to smash the window of a patrol car. Investigators say two police lieutenants arrived for backup, and one of them deployed a Taser that didn't work.
They say Maxwell struck both lieutenants with the bat, which is when officer John Zoll fired his service weapon, striking Maxwell five times and killing him.
Dillon had said the shooting was justified and did not press charges. The lawyer who represented the family, Thomas Liotti, says the case would likely be looked at differently in the present, which is why he asked Singas to review it again.
The officer involved in the shooting was later promoted to sergeant and has since retired from the force. Hempstead officials released a statement about the investigation, saying, "The incident involving Mr. Maxwell was investigated by the Nassau County District Attorney's office 22 years ago and the officer's use of force was deemed justified. The Hempstead Police Department has no reason to believe any subsequent investigation into the incident will bring different results."
Maxwell's family filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the village a year after the shooting. They settled for $135,000 with an agreement that officers would receive more training on how to better handle cases involving emotionally disturbed people.