New York Post
October 4, 2007

All Smiles

By ERIKA MARTINEZ, DOUGLAS MONTERO and LEONARD GREENE

    PHEW! Detectibve Rivera was grazed in the forehead and William Gonzalez in the shin.
  PHEW! Detective Daniel Rivera was grazed in the forehead and William Gonzalez in the shin.

Hours after coming within a hair's breadth of death - a bullet whizzing by his forehead, leaving a red scar in the center as proof - NYPD Detective Daniel Rivera is all smiles yesterday as he leaves a Bronx station house.

The 41-year-old cop hugged his fellow Finest as he left the 48th Precinct and said he was happy to be alive - wearing a shirt that appropriately read: "The Bronx - only the strong survive."

Rivera and his partner, Detective William Gonzalez, 41, who was nicked in the left shin, were both lucky to be alive after apprehending a teenaged gunman wanted in connection with a prior double shooting.

Then, adding insult to injury, the two detectives were ordered to take a Breathalyzer test.

In fact, medics had barely stopped the two detectives' bleeding when they were forced to take the blood-alcohol tests - the first to be so ordered under a new guideline in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting.

"It was demoralizing," said a source close to the detectives.

Though the tests came back negative, and the wounded detectives were later released from St. Barnabas Hospital, the episode left a bad taste in the mouths of cops who daily put themselves in harm's way.

"There is absolutely no reason to submit these courageous detectives to such a test because they were working within the parameters of policy and within the scope of their job," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch.

"They should be receiving praise and commendations, not alcohol testing."

A third cop involved in the back-alley gunfight, Thomas Murphy, was not injured.

The roller-coaster day began shortly after 5:30 a.m. when members of the Bronx Warrant Violent Felony Squad approached an apartment building at 2422 Webster Ave. to arrest Jermaine Taylor, 18, a suspect in a July shooting.

Cops had been watching the building for two days before Rivera and two detectives climbed the stairs to the second-floor apartment where the suspect was holed up. Murphy and Gonzalez were waiting near a back alley.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the detectives knocked on the door, identified themselves, and heard loud scurrying inside the apartment before a woman opened the door.

Kelly said the gunman bolted to the back of the apartment, unhinged an air conditioner and leaped from the second story. He hit the pavement, breaking his pelvis, but came up shooting.

Rivera, who went around to the back, returned fire with Murphy and Gonzalez. The detectives fired 13 rounds, including one that severed a portion of the suspect's middle finger, ending the gun battle.

Police said Taylor squeezed off six shots before dropping an Italian-made 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.

"These are three very lucky detectives," Kelly said at a morning news conference. "Apparently the gun had three live rounds remaining in it."

Taylor was listed in stable condition at Jacobi Hospital.

Kelly said Taylor was being sought on a warrant in connection with a July 22 bodega shooting in The Bronx.

The new Breathalyzer guideline, for cops involved in a shooting that results in a death or injury, went into effect Sunday.

It was developed after the fatal shooting of Bell, an unarmed bridegroom gunned down by cops last year outside a strip club.

Gonzalez's relieved wife, Mirta, said she had no reaction to the Breathalyzer test. She said she was just glad to have her husband home alive.

"I'm happy he's fine," she said. "I just pray every single day for him."

Additional reporting by John Doyle, Austin Fenner, Murray Weiss and Cynthia R. Fagen

erika.martinez@nypost.com