Share this article

print logo

Officer in fatality put on injured rolls; Will be treated for head injuries

A Buffalo police officer who fatally shot a parolee May 27 has suffered a medical setback from injuries allegedly inflicted by the man he killed during a struggle in Black Rock.

Police Officer Mark P. Andrzejak has been removed from administrative leave, a standard assignment after a deadly force incident, and placed on the injured-on-duty rolls.

"The officer is off for at least a month for head injuries sustained during the fight with the parolee," Police Benevolent Association attorney Thomas H. Burton said Monday. "He is slated to be evaluated by aneurosurgeon for eye trauma and head injuries."

Andrzejak, 35, was injured as he tried to arrest John A. Sordetto at about 5 a.m. May 27 on the 400 block of Tonawanda Street, police officials said.

Sordetto, who had violated his parole after being kicked out of a Bailey Avenue halfway house for ex-convicts the day before, had been stopped by Andrzejak because Sordetto resembled another man wanted for stealing a police car at about 4:30 a.m. on the East Side.

The abandoned police vehicle was recovered a short time later in Black Rock.

Sordetto, 25, of Buffalo, allegedly fought Andrzejak as the officer tried to handcuff him. Andrzejak said he felt Sordetto reaching for his gun holster.

The officer fell to the ground and drew his weapon, and Sordetto continued to charge at him, Burton said. Believing he had run out of other options to halt the attack, Andrzejak fired his weapon in self-defense, the attorney said.

After the shooting, the officer managed to radio his location before passing out in the street, according to Burton and police accounts. Sordetto fled but was caught and taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he later died.

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III will determine if the case will be presented to a grand jury for a review.

That decision will be made once Homicide Bureau detectives and Internal Affairs investigators complete separate reviews of the shooting.

"Homicide detectives look at the case from a criminal standpoint, including, obviously, the justification and self-defense statute, while Internal Affairs reviews the incident in respect to administrative policies and rules of the department, which are sometimes stricter than the statute," Burton said.

Burton said that several years ago, Sordetto was involved in a violent confrontation with another police officer who was attempting to arrest him.

"He has a clear history of resisting arrest, and in this case he took it a step too far," Burton said.

Police arrested another man later May 27 and charged him with stealing the police car.