AS RAIN FELL at 12:10 a.m. on New Year's Day, the fatal police bullet entered Bryan Jones' right temple, leaving a 3/8-inch round wound.

The bullet left a trail of shattered bone shards and blood, and destroyed the frontal lobes of Jones' brain before exiting above his left eyebrow, according to an autopsy report by Deputy Medical Examiner Ian C. Hood, released last week.

When the bullet struck, Jones' nearly 6-foot frame fell like dead weight near concrete steps beside a garage on Haddington Street near 59th, two blocks from his home.

His 159-pound body collapsed on his right side, fracturing his jaw and upper oral cavity and knocking out some teeth. Sources close to the medical examiner's office said he may have hit his head on a step when he fell.

Cuts and scrapes were found on the right side of his face and neck. Jones' injuries on his right side were caused by blunt trauma, the report found.

Bryan Jones died amid utter chaos. In front of Overbrook rowhouses, a shootout had erupted between gunmen on porch roofs and police who had responded to 911 calls of revelers firing in the air.

In a driveway behind the rowhouses, an officer yelled at Jones, "Stop!" He didn't. An officer fired the fatal bullet.

Questions immediately arose about police killing an unarmed man, the first victim of 2007.

Last year, there were 20 fatal police shootings, including two unarmed men. So far this year, Jones is the only unarmed person of the four fatal police shootings.

Now, almost eight weeks later, police and Jones' family agree on little. Did Jones unwittingly enter a police operation at the wrong time and fail to adhere to a cop's order to freeze because he was fearful? Or did he give cops, who say he reached in his waistband, reason to believe he could be a threat?

The Jones family and cops can't even agree on the autopsy report.

Jones' brother, Christopher, said an emergency-room doctor told the family that Bryan had been shot three times in the head - in the right side, on the forehead and in the mouth - and that the doctor had tried to revive him.

The autopsy report, however, found only one bullet had entered his right temple and exited his forehead. Bruce Ginsburg, the lawyer who represents the Jones family, called the findings "questionable."

Besides Jones' injuries, the dispute between authorities and Jones' family also centers on when Jones arrived at the area where revelers were firing weapons, and on whether he was ever armed with a gun or guns.

Three juveniles and a 19-year-old who allegedly fired weapons at police were arrested on charges ranging from attempted murder to reckless endangerment.

Nine handguns, including the once-banned semiautomatic TEC-9, were found - six high-powered weapons on the roof and three others, with ammunition, inside a house where gunmen had been partying. More than 100 shell casings were found on 59th Street and in the driveway.

Recently, eight people, including three revelers who fired in the air, told the Daily News details about that fatal night, including their roles, but six asked to remain anonymous while investigations are pending.

Police have not been able to tell their side of the story fully, citing the ongoing probe.

The police Internal Affairs Division, the district attorney's office and Ginsburg are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Jones' death.

Five officers who had fired their weapons were reassigned to administrative duties while the probe continues. They must undergo training at the Police Academy before returning to work.

Until the D.A.'s office decides whether laws were violated, Internal Affairs can't interview the five officers, who are represented by lawyers, said Chief Inspector William Colarulo, head of Internal Affairs.

Meantime, Ginsburg filed a citizen's complaint with Internal Affairs on behalf of the Jones family, the first step before filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

"Bryan was non-violent and never carried anything more than a pen," said Ginsburg, who complained that police officials would not allow him to review police reports. "The family wants answers."

The fateful night

Bryan Jones had been working on his computer at home, on Haddington Street near 57th, when about 11:35 p.m. he realized his nephew was not home and he decided to get him, his brother Christopher said. It was raining outside.

About 11:45 p.m., one of Jones' friends said he reached Jones on his cell phone at home and asked if he would pick him and his girlfriend up at his grandmother's house about 10 blocks away.

"I wanted to get something to eat and [Jones] tells me he got to pick up his nephew," said the friend referring to Jones' nephew Samir Jones, 14.

"Bryan and I always ate together. He knew a lot of stores that had good food. My grandmother had seafood and I don't like seafood," he added.

After picking up the couple, Jones parked his green 1993 Crown Victoria in the driveway behind a vacant house on 59th Street near Dunlap, shortly before midnight, the friend said.

As the Styles' rap song, "Gangster and Gentleman," played inside the car, the girlfriend said she wasn't hungry, took her boyfriend's key and headed to his house nearby to wait. No one was then in the driveway.

Jones stepped out of the car to get Samir, who was playing video games with Charles Williams, 13, in Williams' home next to the house where young men were partying with guns. Jones spoke to Williams' mother, before leaving with Samir.

"When they left, I heard gunshots in the front," said a 59th street resident. "A couple guys came out on the roof."

It was at this point, the Jones family believes, that Jones and Samir walked unwittingly into a police operation.

According to the police account, at 12:10 a.m. Jan. 1 several young men on the porch roof were firing weapons in the direction of police officers arriving on 59th Street next to the Williams' house, in response to 911 calls.

Officers returned fire. The young men crawled from the porch roof and some were seen running to the back of the property, police said.

A police officer told investigators he saw two men running in the driveway behind the rowhouses. One pointed a gun in the direction of the officer, according to the police report. A man, identified as Bryan Jones, reached into his waistband. An officer fired at Jones, who instantly collapsed.

Police admitted that Jones was not found with a gun, nor did he have a criminal record. Yet, a police official said he could not say Jones was "unarmed."

"If they didn't find a gun, and no gun was around him, how could they say he had a gun?" asked Ginsburg.

Probe goes on

Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross has invited the Jones family and others who have information to be interviewed by the Internal Affairs investigators.

Three revelers said they feared police harassment after officers stopped two revelers twice in January for questioning. Once, officers cuffed them and made them wait on the ground until a police photographer could take their pictures. The two were then released.

"If these individuals, who say they have information, want to come forward and be interviewed, we welcome them," said Colarulo. "Everything is being reviewed.

"I'll even go to their location," he added. "I don't want them to be intimidated in any way."

Suspects interviewed by detectives, and sources close to the investigation, said police believe Jones took guns to the party.

But Jones' friend and his girlfriend say they never saw Jones with guns that night, nor were there guns in his car.

"Bryan was not involved with guns. He didn't like guns," said his friend. "I didn't see him carry anything out of the car."

"He wasn't no gangster," said Jones' brother Christopher.

Jones never entered the party house and he didn't bring any guns, three revelers said. Nor did he do drugs. A toxicology report showed Jones' body contained no illegal or over-the-counter drugs.

"Everyone had [his own] guns at the party to welcome in the new year," said the first reveler. "Some were there all day, some came over about 10."

The armed celebrants had been inside the party house drinking when they heard the sounds of gunshots outside. They thought it was midnight. So the gun-toting revelers headed to the driveway and spent all their ammo firing in the air, a second reveler said.

When they realized it wasn't midnight yet, he added, they went back inside to reload their weapons.

Inside the party house were about 15-20 celebrants, ages 14-21, but some left before the police arrived at 12:10 a.m., revelers said.

"There was so many people, there was no place to sit in the living room and dining room," said a third celebrant. "You [were] drinking and not paying attention. When the cops were shooting, I thought it was us shooting."

The second reveler said he looked out the back door and saw a cop coming down the driveway. Several guys, who had just reloaded their weapons, were lined up behind him. He pushed them back inside, then went through the house turning off all of the lights.

"Everyone ran inside and nearly ran me over," said the first reveler, who was in the back of the line. "I went to the living room, and some people ran to the third floor.

"I'm in the enclosed front porch," he added. "The cops are yelling 'The roof, the roof.'

"I see the officers shooting, but don't see who they're shooting at," he said. One reveler named "Quill" went outside. "I hear the door shut, and [police] started shooting at [Quill]. By then, SWAT and everyone else was there and we weren't going nowhere."

Quill, who dropped to the ground, had three bullet holes in his hoodie, said the revelers.

The first and third revelers said they never saw Bryan Jones that night.

As the shootout was underway in the front of the rowhouses, the second reveler said he ran to the basement to see if he could escape out the back door. He said he saw Jones and his nephew going down the back steps of the house next door and warned them: "The cops are shooting out front. Be careful."

"I come out near the cars," he added. "I seen Bryan and Samir about six feet away." Then, a uniformed officer, about 15 feet away, yelled "Freeze! Stop!"

Behind the officer were three more cops coming around the corner, he said.

Jones, his nephew and the reveler took off.

The initial police report said only two men, not three, were in the driveway when Jones was shot.

In a 1:36 a.m. call to the Medical Examiner's Office, Homicide Detective James Crone said Jones was "one of four males confronted by police while firing guns on the highway at 5798 Haddington Street.

"Police [were] forced to shoot Jones," according to the Medical Examiner's report.

The second reveler said he ran straight across the driveway and down an alley parallel to Haddington Street, followed by the first cop.

About three or four cops ran toward Jones and Samir, he added.

Meantime, the friend who Jones left in his car said he was leaning back in the front passenger seat and saw Jones and his nephew running down the driveway away from the car.

"There were three cops with their guns drawn, but I couldn't tell if they said anything," he said.

"I seen him look [back]."

Turning his head toward the cops could possibly account for Jones getting shot in the right temple.

The friend said he heard three to five gunshots and "all three cops were shooting," before Jones fell.

"I was running," Samir said.

"Bryan was running slow. I turned the corner and I never looked back."

He headed down Haddington Street toward 57th to his grandmother's house.

After the shooting, officers who were debriefed said they believed Jones reached for a gun.

The police deadly-force policy allows officers to draw their firearms when they believe a potential for serious bodily injury or imminent death to themselves or another person exists.

No test was performed on Jones' hands to determine whether they had gunpowder residue, a task performed by crime scene technicians in some instances. *