The Chief
December 26, 2003

PBA Honors 44 for Bravery

Shooting Survivor Tells Tale

By Reuven Blau

After being shot in the chest and ankle during a struggle with an armed suspect in Brooklyn, Police Officer Peter Garrido fired back, hitting the gunman several times.

“It was very surreal, it was a big eye-opener for me,” Officer Garrido said of the shoot-out May 22 during a Dec. 17 Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association ceremony honoring his partner and him and 42 other officers for their bravery in the line of duty. The biannual event was held at the Water Club in Kips Bay.

Accentuate the Positive

“So many times you hear negative things about New York City Police Officers,” said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch. “We want to emphasize what goes on every day. These are only a few of the heroic stories.”

Officer Garrido and his partner, Daniel Perez, approached a suspicious-looking man at 12:15 a.m. while he was walking in Bedford Stuyvesant. There had been several recent robberies in the area.

According to Mr. Garrido, a four-year veteran of the 77th who had just been assigned to the plainclothes anti-crime unit, the man told them that he was going home, but continued to walk in the opposite direction.

“He backed away and started putting his hands behind his back, which raised our suspicion levels,” P.O. Garrido said, “He spoke to us like an everyday guy, not like someone who had artillery on him.”

As the officers struggled to arrest the man, one gun fell from the suspect’s waistband, but he grabbed another one from the front of his pants and began to shoot.

“It felt like somebody punched or kicked me right in the chest,” Mr. Garrido said, referring to the bullet that was blocked by his Kevlar vest. “I flew back seven or eight feet.”

His ankle wound landed him in Kings County Hospital for a week. He has been unable to return to work since the incident and now walks with a limp. “My whole outlook has changed,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back.

Suspect in Custody

The suspect, Martin Diggs, was hit five times and has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Officer Perez sustained ligament damage to his hand trying to subdue and arrest the suspect. Mr. Perez, a seven-year veteran, said, “I kind of figured like luck was always on my side, but I knew that one day I would have to confront something like this.”

His life has not been the same since the shooting. “It has changed the time I have with my kids more,” he said. “I have a lot more respect for life in general. When things like this happen, you have a greater respect for people who have lost their lives doing this.”

Richard Burt, a cop assigned to the NYPD Intelligence Division who fatally shot an armed man who had just murdered City Council Member James E. Davis in a crowded Council Chambers last July, was among the others cited.

The PBA also honored several officers who helped evacuate people from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. They had been out with injuries and were unable to attend previous ceremonies. Following are the other awarded officers’ names and precincts:

James Gallagher and Darian Shannon, Midtown North Pct.; Brian Williams and Gerard Czaja, 47 Pct.; Israel Guillen, 40th Pct.; Alice Aragones, Darrin Dawber, Joey Del Rio, Michael Dunn, Gregg Kane, Daryl Lucas, Emmett Macken, and Jorge Tobon, 25th Pct.; Thomas Donovan and Joseph Reale, 20th Pct.; Michael Gergasi, Jo Anne Spreen, and Anthony Cozzi, 1st Pct.; Dorothy Levine and Roman Zlonkiewicz, 77th Pct.; Kevin Gallagher, Frank Pellegrino, Karl Zarr, James Arca, and Gerard Pacella, Harbor Unit;

Michael Kreiman, 63rd Pct.; Gary Sellers and Emil Dzurilla, 115th Pct.; Carl Robinson and Michael McCabe, 101st Pct.; Albert David and Michael Isler, 103rd Pct.; William Trubig, Suffolk County Highway Patrol; Mark Harris, Transit District 4; Josue Barreto and Patricia Figaro, Transit District 12; Michael Puhl, PSA 3; John Boyle, 75th Pct.; and Freddy Vega, Christopher Scarry, and Raymond Gutierrez, 90th Pct.