What to Know
NYPD Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino was killed in Sicily on March 1909 while on an undercover mafia-related mission
He was the first member of the NYPD to be killed in the line of duty on foreign soil
The movie, called “The Black Hand,” is based on the book by Stephan Talty; it’s still in pre-production but is due out next year
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in and executive produce a movie about an NYPD detective killed in the line of duty in Italy more than 100 years ago while on an undercover mission to fight the mafia in America.
Lt. Det. Joseph Petrosino, the first Italian-American of his rank in the NYPD, was also the first member of the department to be killed on duty on foreign soil. He was shot to death in Sicily by the mafia on March 12, 1909, after responding to a message from someone claiming to be a mafia informant.
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It wasn’t until 2014, during an unrelated investigation by Italian police, that a mob boss’ descendant admitted his relative had been responsible for killing Petrosino, thus bringing closure to the more than century-old unsolved slaying.
Petrosino, who died at the age of 48, was a pioneer in combating organized crime in the early 1990s and considered to be the NYPD’s “secret weapon” when it came to taking down Italian mafia.
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The movie, called “The Black Hand,” is based on the book by Stephan Talty. DiCaprio is the executive producer and will star as Petrosino in the film, which is in pre-production and expected out next year.
NYPD officials, relatives of Petrosino and some Italian-American organizations are expected to speak about the movie Friday in Manhattan.
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