Three Buffalo Police officers have been cleared of wrongdoing in two shooting cases – one resulting in the death of an ex-convict who was high on cocaine.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said the grand jury findings were handed up earlier in the week.
Mark P. Andrzejak, 35, was cleared in the fatal shooting of parolee John A. Sordetto in the 400 block of Tonawanda Street about 5 a.m. May 27.
Karl B. Schultz, 26, and Jason R. Whitenight, 28, were cleared in the shooting of Wilson Morales, 17, at French and Moselle streets, about 3 a.m. June 24, following a high-speed car chase.
Thomas H. Burton, chief attorney for the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said Schultz and Whitenight testified before a grand jury two weeks ago and Andrzejak testified before a different grand jury on Wednesday. .
Sordetto, 25, a convicted burglar who had been kicked out of a Bailey Avenue halfway house for parolees a day before he was fatally shot, fought with Andrzejak, who had stopped him for questioning about the theft of a Buffalo police car about a half-hour earlier. As Andrzejak attempted to handcuff him, Sordetto punched him in the eye and tried to take his service pistol.
Andrzejak shot Sordetto before passing out. Sordetto died later in Erie County Medical Center. Sordetto, who was ultimately cleared in the stolen police car case, had been sent to the Buffalo halfway house in March after serving nearly three years for a Buffalo burglary.
Andrzejak, now back on duty with D District, was off for two months of medical leave, recuperating from head and eye injuries suffered in the confrontation with Sordetto.
Burton said Andrzejak fired at Sordetto “in a life-or-death struggle with a parolee high on cocaine and fortunately the officer came out on top.”
Schultz and Whitenight both fired into the van driven by Morales, who was chased throughout the East Side. Morales attempted to back the van into Whitenight after crashing near the suspect’s French Street home. Morales, who is still recuperating, faces trial on charges of assaulting a police officer and unlawfully fleeing from a police officer.
Burton said Whitenight fired in self-defense because he found himself “in every cop’s nightmare, suddenly being on the receiving end of a vehicle with its engine roaring.” He said Schultz fired into the vehicle “to protect his partner.”