I-Team obtains investigative report on Bay Area teens held in Italian police officer's death

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There are major developments in the case of two Bay Area teens, held in the death of an Italian police officer. That officer's partner is now under investigation for failing to bring his service weapon that night. Also today, the ABC7 I-Team has obtained a copy of the police investigative report on the incident.

Prosecutors in Rome say Carabinieri Officer Andrea Varriale is under investigation for "failure to carry out his duties". Varriale now admits neither he nor his partner, Mario Cerciello Rega, had their service weapons the early morning of July 26th, as they met two Bay Area teens.

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Gabriel Natale is being held as a possible accessory to murder; prosecutors say Finn Elder admitted stabbing Officer Rega to death.

The I-Team's Dan Noyes spoke with Elder's attorney today about Officer Varriale facing his own investigation. "He lied about having a gun," said Craig Peters. "He didn't have a gun, he lied about them both showing their badges we know for a fact that Cerciello Rega didn't have a badge."

The Carabinieri investigative report obtained by the ABC7 I-Team traces the steps leading to that fatal fight.

Investigators say it all began in Rome's Trastevere entertainment district when off-duty officers spotted Gabe Natale bent down between cars, using his cell-phone light to find a foil packet. It turned out to be a single pill of acetaminophen; prosecutors say Natale had been ripped off while trying to buy cocaine.

Natale gave the foil packet to the officers and bolted as seen on surveillance video, and Finn Elder picked up a backpack owned by a man who police identified as a known pusher.

He's the bald, muscular man in this photo from that night, contained in the police report.

When the teens got back to their room at the Meridian Hotel, the reported pusher called his cell phone that was in the backpack, and negotiated an exchange with Gabe Natale, who speaks fluent Italian.

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The investigative report says, "Between the two suspects, Natale was certainly the most charismatic, assuming a dominant position not only when negotiating the return of the backpack." And it claims Natale searched for the best meeting place to avoid cameras.

"Gabe is a terrible leader if he's the leader looking out for cameras because there was a camera right there watching him the whole time," said Craig Peters. "So this whole idea that somehow he had staked the area out and looked for cameras is comical."

We also asked Natale's father and his attorneys to comment, but they declined, but Frabrizio Natale emailed us, "The glaring inconsistencies in the investigative report speak for themselves and we don't see a need to make a public statement at this juncture."

After Natale set the meeting place, the report says that he and Elder hid the backpack in a planter box at the hotel, and scoped out the street, ducking behind cars at times. In a final call, Elder's attorney says the reported pusher assured the teens he was coming alone, so it was a surprise when two larger men appeared at the street corner -- the carabinieri.

Finn Elder's attorney tells us the boys tried to run.

"The assault by the two, Varriale and Cerciello ensues and the boys defend themselves," said Peters." Finn is on the ground with Cerciello Rega on top of him and is trying to defend himself and had the knife and used the knife to try and get Cerciello Rega off of him."

Rega and Varriale had also failed to call in the location of their meeting with the teens. The dispatcher thought they were at a location 3 kilometers away. The confusion delayed the ambulance response; it took more than fifteen minutes for one to arrive, as Rega bled out. He died later at the hospital.

RELATED: I-Team's Dan Noyes gets inside hotel where Bay Area men are accused of hiding knife used to kill Italian police officer

Police later tracked the teens back to their hotel room using surveillance cameras on the street and in the hotel. And in the ceiling panel similar to the one we saw, one floor above, investigators found the knife and some bloody clothing.

In addition to those photos, the report contains links to many videos and recordings of the phone and radio traffic. So many pieces to put together for prosecutors and for the defense teams.

For a look at more stories and videos by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.
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