Washington Post  

May 4 at 6:29 PM

‘Our city is mourning': NYPD officer dies after being shot in the head

By Justin Wm. Moyer and Elahe Izadi

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch speaks to the reporters May 3 on the steps of the Queens criminal court in New York.

A New York police officer has died two days after being shot in the head in what prosecutors described as an attempted “assassination,” officials announced Monday.

Officer Brian Moore, 25, had suffered from “severe injuries to his brain and skull” after a 35-year-old man with an extensive criminal record allegedly shot him in the face.

“Our city is mourning. Our hearts are heavy. We lost one of New York City’s finest,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Monday press conference.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described Moore, who came from a police family, as “an extraordinary young man,” CBS New York reported. “A great loss to his family, a great loss to this department and a great loss to this profession and to this city.”

Demetrius Blackwell, 35, had been arraigned on attempted murder charges Sunday in Queens Criminal Court while Moore had been “fighting for his life,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told the Associated Press.

After Moore’s death, Brown announced the charges will be upgraded to include first-degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison without parole.

“This was nothing more and nothing less than a cold-blooded attempt at an assassination of New York’s finest,” Assistant District Attorney Peter McCormack said Sunday, as the AP reported. He said Blackwell told police he was known as a “hellraiser on the street.”

Blackwell did not enter a plea, and was held without bond. David Bart, Blackwell’s court-appointed lawyer, said Sunday his client “has no particular animus toward police officers” and “emphatically denies” the charges.

Moore, 25, and his partner stopped Blackwell on Saturday after seeing him tugging on his waistband, according to the AP.

“What are you carrying?” Moore, who was wearing plainclothes in an unmarked car, asked Blackwell. Shortly after, Blackwell “in a vicious manner started to fire,” as the prosecutor put it.

Moore “was shot in the cheek and it came out the other side,” an unidentified source told the New York Daily News.

Moore’s partner, who was not hit, radioed for help, and Blackwell was arrested after a house-to-house search. Three witnesses picked him out of a lineup.

Blackwell previously served a five-year sentence on an attempted murder charge, and was arrested in 2013 after he allegedly grabbed a police officer’s badge and spit at him.

More than 100 officers showed up for Blackwell’s arraignment Sunday. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said officers would return for future court appearances. “If you attacked one of us, you’ve attacked all of us,” he told CBS New York.

Moore’s family removed him from life support on Monday, The New York Times reported. He was surrounded by family and fellow officers when he died “after a valiant fight,” Bratton said in a statement.

Bratton announced Moore’s death outside Jamaica Hospital on Monday. Following the announcement, police officers lined up to watch Moore’s body carried out of the hospital as part of a “sad tradition” to “show respect to Brian, for the sacrifice he made,” Lynch said.

JetBlue will offer free flights to law enforcement officers wanting to attend Moore’s funeral, Bratton said Monday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the shooting “a deplorable act of violence.”

“As a member of the NYPD, Officer Moore put the safety of his fellow New Yorkers before his own, and we will remember his service with gratitude and pride,” Cuomo said in a statement Monday.

Moore served on the force less than five years, Bratton said, and in that time “he had already proved himself to be an exceptional young officer.”

“In that career, he had made over 150 arrests protecting and serving the citizens of this city,” Bratton said, according to a CBS New York report. “He had already received two exceptional police service medals, two meritorious police service medals. We don’t give them out easily. He worked for them. He earned them.”

Stephanie Keith/Reuters
NYPD officers embrace after the body of NYPD officer Brian Moore leaves in an ambulance from Jamaica Hospital in New York on Monday.

Moore’s shooting — the fifth of an on-duty officer in five months — recalled the ambush of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn this past December. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed after a 28-year-old man announced his attention to murder NYPD officers in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed African American men killed by police in 2014.

“It’s clear that this was an assassination,” de Blasio said at the time. “These officers were shot execution-style, a particularly despicable act which goes to the heart of our society and our democracy.”

Prosecutors, however, had said Blackwell had not made similar declarations.

A week after Baltimore erupted following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody under suspicious circumstances — and a few days after six Baltimore police officers were charged — Moore’s shooting also pitted those protesting police brutality against those who say assaults on officers are often ignored. As in the past, this debate was found on social media under the hashtag “#policelivesmatter.”