The manslaughter trial of ex-Eastchester police officer James Pileggi began yesterday, and Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli’s courtroom quickly filled with family members of both the defendant and victim, Andre Everett. The emotional trial will continue Monday with more testimony from prosecutors Fredric Green and Alexis Celestin, who are arguing that Pileggi’s decision to play with a loaded Glock on Nov. 3, 2009 was criminally reckless.
Pileggi faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
No matter the outcome of the trial, Pileggi will likely face a civil suit by the Everett family. In January 2010, the family filed a notice of claim, a precursor to filing a lawsuit, against the Eastchester Police Department of the Town of Eastchester. According to the notice, the family is claiming wrongful death, pain and suffering and negligent hiring, training and monitoring of Pileggi, among the claims.
“Respondents, through their agents, servant and employees, knew or should have known of P.O. James Pileggi Jr.’s violent and unsafe propensities and failed to act reasonably under the circumstances,” the notice states.
Typically, a lawsuit must be filed within a year of filing a notice of claim, but instead a summons was served to the town a couple of months ago. The family’s civil attorney, Jared Rice of Rice & Rice in New Rochelle, said the distraught family did not want to ensure a criminal trial and civil action at the same time and will wait until the criminal case is over to proceed with any legal action.