Former `Sopranos' actor, another man held without bail, charged with killing N.Y. police officer

Monday, December 12th 2005, 10:37 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A former ``Sopranos'' actor and another man were ordered held without bail Thursday at a hearing in the hospital where both men are being treated for gunshot wounds inflicted by the police officer they are charged with killing.

Lillo Brancato Jr., who appeared on several episodes of the HBO series and also appeared in 1995's ``A Bronx Tale'' with Robert De Niro, was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge by Bronx Criminal Court Judge Michael Sonberg.

Steven Armento was arraigned separately on a first-degree murder charge and could face life in prison without parole if convicted. Neither man spoke or entered a plea at the hearing in a conference room at Jacobi Medical Center.

The arraignments came one day after about 20,000 police officers turned out at the funeral for Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, who was off duty last Saturday when he responded to the sound of breaking glass in a neighbor's apartment.

According to authorities, the two suspects were trying to burglarize the apartment and steal prescription drugs.

Assistant District Attorney Terry Gottlieb said Brancato had given statements to police that Enchautegui identified himself as a police officer and ordered them to freeze, then Armento started shooting.

The prosecutor added that Armento, after the shooting, told police, ``I thought I'd shoot him first because I thought he was going to shoot us.''

The mortally wounded officer returned fire, striking Brancato twice and Armento six times.

Both men are due back in court on Jan. 9.

Enchautegui was the second New York police officer killed in the past two weeks.