The Lockport police officer wounded 20 years ago in a suspicious shooting that led to the death of a Niagara County deputy rushing to his aid died of natural causes Saturday at his retirement home in Florida.
Steven L. Biles, 59, was considered a suspect in his own shooting that indirectly caused the death of Deputy Jeffrey A. Incardona. The 29-year-old father of three was racing to the shooting scene in a remote section of Lockport in the middle of the night when he lost control of his patrol car, which crashed and burst into flames.
Biles had put out a desperate radio call that he had been shot and needed help. He was wounded three times and claimed it occurred when a backseat passenger in a parked car on a wooded section of Elmwood Avenue shot at him as he was investigating why the car was there.
In recent months, local police and the FBI reopened the mysterious case after new developments had emerged.
Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, in reacting to Biles’ death, said Thursday that the investigation will continue despite Biles’ death.
“We had heard that he was gravely ill,” Voutour said. “The investigation is ongoing.”
The sheriff, who was hired as a deputy to replace Incardona, has previously said he has a responsibility to find out the truth for the Incardona family about what happened shortly after 3 a.m. July 22, 1993.
Several circumstances caused authorities to question Biles’ account that a passenger in the parked car shot him.
The questions focus on Biles’ fingerprint being found on the gun that was later recovered, a witness’ statements to police claiming Biles was shot because he was involved in a drug ring, and the fact that the angle at which the bullets struck Biles did not line up with his account of being shot by a back-seat passenger.
Biles, when contacted by The Buffalo News last month at his home in Winter Springs, Fla., said he welcomed the reopening of the investigation.
He also said he hoped it would prove he was not involved in corrupt behavior and that he was doing his job when he was shot.
Attorney George V.C. Muscato, who had represented Biles, described him Thursday as an honest, hardworking cop.
“Officer Biles was a very good police officer who was shot in the line of duty. There has never been anything beyond rumors to support any other conclusion than that he was investigating a parked automobile on the side of the road.
“The very, very unfortunate and sad conclusion is that another police officer responding to Officer Biles’ situation lost his life,” Muscato said. “I personally knew Deputy Incardona, and he also was not only just a good deputy but a wonderful individual. Basically you have two police officers now who have lost their lives prematurely.”
Members of the Incardona family declined to comment, saying that they wanted to focus on the upcoming groundbreaking at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Lockport’s Outwater Park for the city’s Fallen Heroes Memorial, which will include a tribute to the deputy.
Biles had retired to Florida on a disability pension in the mid-1990s and fulfilled his dream of becoming a security guard at Disney World, though he later worked as a construction supervisor.
He said that his health problems from a bullet that remained lodged in his left leg had prompted him to fully retire.
A graveside service is set for 1 p.m. next Friday in Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell.