Crime

Woman Shot In The Face By Police Sues Over Alleged Cover-Up

| by Daniel Rivera
Britteney MilesBritteney Miles

A Massachusetts woman is suing local police for shooting her in the face by accident and allegedly trying to cover it up.

Britteney Miles, then 21, was pregnant when Springfield police arrived at her apartment on May 5, 2012, around 4:30 a.m. responding to a possible break in, MassLive reports. While holding her young daughter, Miles went to open the door for authorities.

One of the officers' guns reportedly accidentally went off, hitting Miles in the face.

The complaint filed on April 29 lists former officer Danielle Petrangelo, Police Chief Eric Gillis and two unnamed officers as those involved. It alleges authorities participated in a cover-up to explain why Petrangelo drew her weapon while waiting for Miles to come to the door. It also accuses the officers of assault and battery and the town of inadequately training its officers. 

Miles is suing the officers and the town for $1.5 million.

"Officer Petrangelo knocked on same with her foot while holding her service revolver at chest level, pointed at the door," the complaint reads, according to MassLive. "As Miles unlocked and started to open the solid wood door, she heard a loud noise and saw a bright light. Officer Petrangelo had discharged her firearm through the door, striking Ms. Miles in the face and chin."

"One doctor suggested she may need a prosthetic jaw ... or braces," attorney Bruce Melikian said. "She is still struggling emotionally."

Authorities justified Petrangelo's actions, saying the officers heard glass breaking and yelling inside the apartment.

Miles' attorneys said that only she and her two small children were in her home at the time of the incident, and neighbors maintain they only heard the sound of glass breaking before officers arrived on the scene.

Police reports state Miles asked her boyfriend, David Kozac, to leave the apartment at approximately 11 p.m. the previous night because he was intoxicated. He returned twice, breaking a window at one point. According to a report by then-Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni, Kozac went out the back door to smoke moments before police arrived.

Petrangelo was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by Mastroianni, who is now a federal judge. She was placed on paid leave after the shooting, and an internal investigation was launched by the Agawam police.

Other similar incidents have taken place across the U.S. In September 2013, an unarmed Georgia teen was accidentally shot by a police officer who thought the 16-year-old was a burglary suspect, according to WSB-TV. In February 2012, a Seattle man was shot 16 times by officers who were serving an arrest warrant to someone else, IJReview reported.

Sources: MassLive, WSB-TV, IJReview / Photo Credit: The Republican via MassLive