Carmine Galante murders NYPD Cop during botched robbery
On March 15, 1930, a brazen robbery in Brooklyn resulted in the homicide of New York City Police Officer Walter DeCastillia. DeCastillia’s murder was just one of the hundreds of NYPD cops killed in the line of duty over the decades. His is notable because one of the perps would later be a significant figure in New York organized crime.
DeCastillia was escorting a payroll delivery to the office of Martin-Weinstein Shoe Co. on the 6th Floor of 35 York Street. The money made it up to payroll department without incident. As DeCastillia was waiting on the 6th floor, the elevator doors opened again. Inside were five men with masks on. Four of them opened fire immediately. DeCastillia tried to draw his gun but was shot and fell to the ground. Again, trying to draw and defend himself, he received a fatal shot that killed him instantly.
The crew, possibly surprised by Officer DeCastillia’s presence, didn’t get any money. Fleeing the scene in a waiting car, they thought the got away clean. NYPD Detectives responded and started an immediate investigation. Members of the crew were identified and charged with DeCastillia’s death. One of the perps was the notorious Carmine Galante, who would later become a Bonanno crime boss. Unfortunately, the perps all had their cases dismissed by the Brooklyn DA for lack of evidence.
Galante was only 20 years old at the time of the homicide but already had a criminal history and had done two years in prison. He would go on to shoot NYPD Detective Joseph Meenahan and a 6-year-old girl during a botched truck hijacking in August of 1930. That botched robbery would get him sent upstate for a 12 year bid.
Shockingly, prison did not reform the bloodthirsty gangster. He would go on to be a hitman for Vito Genovese, and is believed to have committed some 80 murders. In the 1950’s he discovered the lucrative drug business and worked with Joseph Bonanno on importing heroin into the United States through Canada. This scheme would later be known as the French Connection.
In 1974, after a stint in prison for narcotics trafficking, Galante began an aggressive campaign to take over the Bonanno Crime Family. Killing rivals and forcing out old blood, he became acting boss by 1976. Always looking for more power, he began a war with the Gambino Family over the drug business. By 1979, Galante’s violent and disruptive actions were being noticed by the other Cosa Nostra heads. The were not thrilled with his style. Even the retired Joseph Bonanno had enough of his act.
His end came on July 12, 1979 at Joe and Mary’s Italian American Restaurant at 205 Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn. Galante was eating there with two Bonanno Family members and his two bodyguards. Three men in ski masks came and shot the three Bonanno men to death. The fix was in. Galante’s bodyguards didn’t lift a finger and they were left unharmed. Galante died on the floor of the restaurant, his trademark cigar still clutched in his mouth.