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N.Y. OFFICER CLEARED IN DEATH OF DOMINICAN, PAPER SAYS

A grand jury has cleared a policeman in the shooting of a Dominican man whose death sparked several days of violence, a newspaper reported today.

The grand jury voted last week not to indict Officer Michael O'Keefe, but prosecutors haven't released the ruling for fear it would cause renewed violence in Washington Heights, the New York Post reported, citing law enforcement sources it did not identify.Mayor David Dinkins, the district attorney's office and police refused to confirm the report. Police said they had made plans to deal with reaction to the grand jury's action, but that no special measures were taken today as a result of the Post report.

No problems were immediately reported this morning, police said.

The upper Manhattan neighborhood was racked by violence for several days after O'Keefe shot 23-year-old Jose Garcia on July 3 during a struggle in the lobby of an apartment building.

O'Keefe, 29, said he fired in self defense during a fight with Garcia, but witnesses said O'Keefe beat Garcia and then shot him as he pleaded for his life.

Relatives and neighbors described Garcia as a mild-mannered store clerk. Police said he had been arrested previously for drug deal-ing.

Community leaders have warned that violence would follow a decision not to indict.