Reports: CCTV cameras turned off or broken in Italy cop slaying

Two CCTV cameras that could have captured the alleged slaying of a Roman police officer by two Bay Area teens were either turned off or broken, according to media reports.

On July 26, Italian law enforcement officials say Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 18, attacked two Carabinieri officers after a drug deal gone wrong, stabbing Mario Cerciello Rega to death. The families of the two suspects, who attended Tamalpais High in Mill Valley together, maintain they were acting in self-defense.

Security cameras for the pharmacy across from the site of the stabbing were off, according to The Daily Beast, which reports that the pharmacy manager says they only “run their cameras when they are open.” The incident occurred around 2:30 a.m.

In addition, police have said the CCTV for a nearby bank was broken.

Amid talk of a bungled investigation, The Daily Beast reports there could also be witnesses to the crime: “The fatal stabbing took place during a humid Roman night when local residents without air conditioning, of which there are many in Rome, would have been sleeping with their windows open. Italian media reports have already hinted of secret witnesses who may have heard and seen the whole thing.”

MORE‘He is devastated’: Parents of teens accused in Italy cop murder case visit sons in jail

According to police and court documents, Elder and Natale-Hjorth stole a backpack from a local drug dealer after they were not given the cocaine they allegedly came for. The drug dealer contacted police after the pair told him they’d only return the backpack in exchange for 100 euros and some cocaine, officials say, and a sting was set up. Cerciello Rega and his partner were sent to the scene.

Once there, the partner says Elder and Natale-Hjorth attacked them “immediately,” despite identifying themselves as police officers. According to police, Elder knifed Cerciello Rega 11 times, while Natale-Hjorth assaulted the other officer.

Prosecutors say Elder has confessed to the stabbing. Court documents indicate Elder says he was “strangled” by Cerciello Rega and didn’t realize he was law enforcement. Judge Chiara Gallo said there did not appear to be marks on Elder’s neck consistent with strangulation.

Fabrizio Natale issued a statement after visiting his son in Regina Coeli prison in Rome last week. Natale said his son was “devastated” by the death of Cerciello Rega and “can’t come to terms with what happened.”

“We feel the public has an incomplete account of the true version of these events,” said Craig Peters, an attorney for the Elder family, on Saturday.

The teens have yet to be charged.

Katie Dowd is an SFGATE Senior Digital Editor. Contact: katie.dowd@sfgate.com | Twitter: @katiedowd

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/finnegan-elder-gabe-hjorth-natale-rome-cameras-14279365.php.

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