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Former cop who directed docu-film on Bronx Tale star Lilo Brancato calls actor a friend

February 19, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Former cop who directed docu-film on Bronx Tale star Lilo Brancato calls actor a friend Photo: Youtube screenshot

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The New York City Film Festival will debut with a documentary about actor Lillo Brancato, who spent almost ten years behind bars for his part in a crime that resulted in the killing of an NYPD detective.

However, in a real-life plot twist, the film was directed by a former New York City cop.

Steve Stanulis, a seven-year veteran with the NYPD, said that directing “Wasted Talent” cost him friends, who he hopes will come around once they watch the documentary. He now refers the “A Bronx Tale” actor as “a friend” as well.

“I got a huge blowback,” he said to the New York Daily News about the movie, which will premiere on March 5th. “People said, ‘How can you do this? It’s sacrilegious.’”

A friend of Stanulis’ knew introduced him to Brancato.

After meeting the now 41-year-old former Bronx Tale star and Yonkers native, Stanulis agreed to tell his story, according to the New York Daily News.

“Right away I was conflicted, and when I started doing it, I kept it quiet,” Stanulis confessed.

Brancato was released from Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, on New Year’s Eve 2013 after completing his sentence for an attempted burglary in 2005, where his partner, who is serving life behind bars fatally shot off-duty officer Daniel Enchautegui.

Stanulis chose to do the film as he “got to know Lillo and knew that he wasn’t a killer — that he didn’t pull the trigger.” He added: “I lost a lot of friends making this. I think if they watch it, they’ll owe me an apology.”

When Brancato first made headlines for his crimes, Stanulis rejected the disgraced actor as a “cop killer” and wouldn’t watch any films about it. However, after learning the actor’s story of drug addiction and poor decisions, he changed his mind.

“(Brancato) is someone I would call a friend now,” Stanulis said. Stanulis also added that as a former officer who went to three funerals and five wakes in uniform between 1994 and 2001, he understands the severity of Brancato’s actions.

“There’s nothing more gut-wrenching than when you hear those bagpipes, and they shoot into the air and put the flag over the coffin,” Stanulis continued. “If that doesn’t move you, looking at the widow and the kids, nothing will.”

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