The mother of a dog walker who was shot and killed by her boyfriend’s police officer husband last year has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NYPD, saying her son’s killer should not have had a gun.
Edward Wilkins, 20, was shot and killed by Officer Shawn Armstead, 36, who killed himself on May 8, 2022, outside the Buffalo Wild Wings in Wallkill because he suspected the young man was having an affair with his wife, Alexandra Vanderheyden, 35. .
Wilkins’ mother, Helena Dow, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD on Thursday, saying the department should have known Armstead was suffering from mental health problems and shouldn’t have allowed him to have a gun — or even become a police officer, according to filings in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Armstead — who was scheduled to work the midnight shift at PSA 8 in the Bronx — called in sick on the day of the killing and was “negligently allowed to have his service pistol and three clips of ammunition,” the lawsuit states. .
Enthusiastic police officers, Vanderheyden and Wilkins – an employee of her dog-walking business – arrive at the La Quinta Inn on the north side of Wallkill.
Wilkins later crashed his car into Wilkins after chasing him on NY-211 before fleeing on foot.
Wilkins — who made it all the way to the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot — was shot 11 times by Armstead outside the restaurant, the suit says.
Vanderheyden, who had been with Armstead for nine years, arrived to find both men after her husband also shot himself.
Armstead was “negligently allowed to keep his service pistol and three clips of ammunition despite the fact that he had previously called in sick and was off duty and had no legitimate reason to possess the firearm,” the lawsuit states.
And the 11-year veteran police officer suffered from mental illness, was a known risk for violence, and was psychologically and emotionally unfit to be a police officer and dangerous…carrying an assault rifle, the lawsuit alleges.
The NYPD was “negligent in supervising Armstead and entrusting him with the gun,” which was a “substantial and proximate cause of” Wilkins’ death, the suit says.
Leading up to the tragic killing, Wilkins “endured pre-impact terror and suffered severe pain … and suffering, including fear of imminent death when his motor vehicle was struck by Armstead,” the filing said.
Dow is suing for unspecified damages. Her lawsuit also names Armstead’s estate.
Dow’s attorney, Michael Kolb, of the law firm O’Connor & Partners PLLC, told the Post, “I can confirm that. [Dow] it is. [Wilkins’] Mother and this issue is very difficult for her.
He declined to comment further.
Vanderheyden was not named as a defendant in the suit. A working number for her could not be reached Thursday.
The NYPD declined to comment because the case is pending.
The Orange County Commissioner of Finance is listed as the administrator of Armstead’s estate. A lawyer for the estate declined to comment.
AAdditional reporting by Craig McCarthy