2 Officers Are Charged In Shooting

Posted: February 08, 1990

Two Pennsauken police officers were charged yesterday in a bizarre shooting that seriously injured a brakeman on a Conrail freight train early Tuesday, James F. Mulvihill, the acting Camden County prosecutor, announced yesterday.

Mulvihill said that Patrolmen Louis Kuczykowski, 25, and Timothy J. Maher, 30, were firing their semiautomatic service revolvers at bottles in a wooded area near the Conrail lines in Pennsauken in the early morning hours Tuesday. Both were off-duty. A stray bullet from one of their revolvers - police are

uncertain which - struck the brakeman, John W. Conway, as he was standing on the ladder of a moving freight train shortly after 4 a.m., Mulvihill said.

The officers allegedly were drinking beer and shooting at the empty bottles, police sources said.

They were charged yesterday with aggravated assault, causing injury under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference, aggravated assault, recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon and official misconduct. Both officers were suspended without pay and were released on their own recognizance, Pennsauken Police Chief Nicholas Petitte said.

Conway, 52, of the 2800 block of Memphis Street, Philadelphia, underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was listed in serious condition yesterday at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center, a spokeswoman said.

Police sources familiar with the investigation said that the officers were unaware of the shooting until reporting for work Tuesday afternoon. When they learned of the incident, they went to the shift commander and informed him that they had been in the area, sources said.

Kuczykowski has been with the force since April 1988, and Maher has been with the department for more than two years.

According to Mulvihill, the patrolmen worked the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift Monday, then went to a wooded area on property owned by Glasgow Inc., a company that makes asphalt. The train tracks run behind the company. Police said yesterday that the area was known as a place where some people went to target-shoot illegally.

Investigators said that Kuczykowski and Maher apparently placed bottles on the railroad embankment. Conway and three other crew members were switching freight cars in the area, a Conrail spokeswoman said. Conway was standing on a ladder when he was shot and called the engineer by walkie-talkie, she said.

Police found spent casings at the site Tuesday. It is unclear which revolver fired the shot that struck Conway because the bullet has not been recovered. "We're not sure if the bullet is still in him," said George Kerns, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

After reporting their target shooting to their shift commander, Kuczykowski and Maher went to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday night, Petitte said. Petitte said they stayed up virtually all night.

He said that he met with them about noon yesterday after returning from Florida and sent them home to get some rest.

"They are really going through hell," he said. "If the guy dies, God forbid, their lives will really be hell."

In addition to the criminal charges, the men are charged with departmental violations - failure to obey orders, flagrant misuse of firearms and neglect of duty, all civil service violations. After the criminal charges are resolved, Kuczykowski and Maher will go before an administrative law judge on the departmental violations. The judge will decide whether they will be fired.

The patrolmen had routine patrol-car duties and were not partners, Petitte said. He said neither had been disciplined before for any violations.

"They were a couple of rookies, completely inexperienced," Petitte said. ''One of them hasn't been on the streets more than a year and a half. You don't know what you're doing as a police officer for the first three years. They were a couple of young rookies who made a terrible mistake."

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