On Thursday, a former New York City police officer, Arthur Lomando, pleaded not guilty in the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, Suzanne Bardzell. Authorities say that just a few hours after the murder, Lomando threw himself in front of a train.
According to the Bergen Record, Lomando didn’t speak during the 10-minute hearing. His attorney, Anthony LaPinta, entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf.
On October 22nd, police said, Lomando broke the window of Bardzell’s car and killed her with a large knife. She died at the scene, outside her home in Midland Park, New Jersey. “The murder weapon was left inside the vehicle,” Bergen County prosecutor, John Molinelli, said at a news conference at the time.
“While there is evidence of a history of domestic violence between Ms. Bardzell and the assailant,” he continued, “it appears that she did not notify police and come in and file complaints with the Police Department until just recently,” on Oct. 5.
At around 4:30 the same day, authorities said, Lomando threw himself in front of the A train at the 168th Street station, sustaining severe leg and head trauma. Both of his feet were amputated.
At the hearing on Thursday, Judge Susan Steele of New Jersey Superior Court set Lomando’s bail at $5 million. In addition to the murder charge, he also faces charges of violating—just two weeks before her death—a restraining order Bardzell had taken out against him and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Lomando was appointed an officer with the NYPD in early 1994 and was fired for misconduct a decade later. The intervening years are detailed in a lawsuit he filed against the department, alleging that he was fired to avoid having to pay his mental health disability claim. From the Record:
The NYPD filed internal disciplinary charges against Lomando in December 2000 for violations, including refusing a sergeant’s order, insubordination, making false statements to a sergeant that he was on scheduled vacation for an overtime detail and taking a 15 minute unapproved leave from an assignment, according to Ling-Cohan’s ruling.
In November 2001, Lomando was put on “restricted duty” after complaints that he was suffering from depression, the ruling stated.
An NYPD disciplinary trial found Lomando guilty of three administrative charges and recommended his termination, it stated.
Further charges were leveled, and further investigations into Lomando’s behavior conducted. In 2004, the police pension fund’s medical board found that Lomando, who had been at that point been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and panic attacks, “could not perform the duties of a police officer.”
A few months later, then-NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly approved Lomando’s firing, and a judge dismissed his lawsuit against the department in 2005.
At the hearing on Thursday, another of Lomando’s attorneys, Brendan Ahern, told the judge that the ex-cop had not been provided with a wheelchair, was not receiving proper medical care, and did not have access to a handicap-accessible shower or toilet. But, the Record reports:
Special Deputy Attorney General Acting Senior Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer objected, saying she had only received a letter raising these concerns that morning. She said she doubted anyone at the jail had yet read the letter, and that it would be “premature and inappropriate and unfair” to accept as true the attorneys’ claims.
Steele directed Lomando’s attorneys to send their letter to the jail warden. After they do so, she can address the issue.
Reportedly, Bardzell was on a phone with a friend at the time of the attack. The friend called 911, and told the state police dispatcher that she’d heard a male voice say something like “I’m sorry to have to do this to you.”