A wanted man shot by police during a chase in Egg Harbor Township last year was paralyzed, according to a tort claim warning of a possible $27 million lawsuit against the entities involved.
Donald Capriotti was considered armed and dangerous when State Police stopped him near the Travelodge in the township’s West Atlantic City section Nov. 7.
He then fled the car, officials said at the time. During the chase, an Egg Harbor Township K-9 dog was shot once, and Capriotti was shot multiple times.
The dog, Shooter, has since recovered. Capriotti remains hospitalized, paralyzed from the waist down, attorney Joseph Mazraani says in the letter sent late last month to Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, State Police, the state Treasury Department and the state Attorney General’s Office. The full extent of his injuries is still unknown.
A flier distributed among law enforcement before the incident warned that Capriotti — who previously served time for aggravated manslaughter — had threatened to shoot someone before going back to jail, “and would shoot police, too.”
But Capriotti “was unarmed and did not pose a threat to anyone” when he was shot, Mazraani wrote.
The tort claim indicates it’s unclear which officers discharged their weapons that day.
A gun was never recovered, according to the Attorney General’s Office, which continues to investigate the incident.
Capriotti, who also goes by Gardner, was arrested twice last year, both times with his wife, Chinyere Onuba-Gardner.
The couple were arrested in January 2013 after police raided their home and found $6,000 worth of crack cocaine, a half-ounce of marijuana, a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun with 13 rounds of ammunition, a Tech-9 semiautomatic assault rifle also with 13 rounds of ammunition and a high-capacity magazine.
The couple were arrested again in July, after allegedly attacking a man inside a township motel the month before. The victim, whose name was not released, was pistol-whipped, hit with a baseball bat and stabbed with a machete inside the Courtesy Inn in the Farmington section of Egg Harbor Township, according to the report.
A co-defendant in that case is now charged in an unrelated homicide.
Capriotti was paroled in May 2012 after serving almost 19 years of a 30-year sentence in the killing of Devon Whitehead when both were 19. Capriotti pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter, saying he was angry with Whitehead after he had been told the victim said bad things about him.
Mazraani said it would be premature to comment on the case at this time, since the investigation is ongoing and a lawsuit has not yet been filed.
The Attorney General’s Office did not return calls seeking comment.
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