Contact: Albert O'Leary
PBA Communications Director
212-298-9190

or Joseph Mancini
212-298-9150

December 17, 2003
For Immediate Release




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PBA’S “FINEST OF THE FINEST” AWARDS

The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) today (Wednesday, Dec. 17) honored Detective Richard Burt, whose swift reaction and expert marksmanship prevented further bloodshed after Council Member James Davis was assassinated in City Hall last June. Burt, who gunned down Davis’ assassin, was among 43 New York City police officers and one Suffolk County cop honored by the police union as the “Finest of the Finest.”

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch and other members of the union’s Executive Board hosted the awards luncheon, traditionally held twice a year at Manhattan’s Water Club. The officers – accompanied by their friends and family – were feted and presented with plaques commemorating feats of valor, compassion and resourcefulness ranging from daredevil rescues to dangerous shootouts.

“Amazing acts of bravery and resourcefulness are performed by New York City police officers every day. Officer Burt and the others honored here today are examples of the most amazing of the amazing – the “Finest of the Finest,” as we call them,” said Lynch. “Of all the awards our officers earn for their performance, we value these most highly. These cops are selected by other cops – by their peers – which makes it all that much more special.”

Click on the names, below, of each of the officers for accounts of incidents for which they were honored.

Police Officer Richard Burt of the Intelligence Division is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Resourceful and Quick-Thinking Action and Incredibly Precise Marksmanship in Taking Down New York City Council Member James E. Davis’s Assassin Before He Could Cause Further Death or Injury.

You’ve all read about this remarkable cop’s exploits in the newspapers or seen the accounts on television. Council Member Davis had just been shot in the balcony of the Council chambers when – with uncanny composure and marksmanship – Officer Burt fired six times from the floor below, killing the assassin and saving God knows how many other lives. Officer Burt won a battlefield commission to the rank of detective for his exemplary police work and we are pleased to add the PBA’s Finest of the Finest award to his long list of citations.

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Police Officers James Gallagher and Darian Shannon of the Midtown North Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Intelligent Action in Risking Their Own Lives to Rescue a Man From a Burning Building.

These officers were the first to arrive at an apartment house fire a block away from their stationhouse. When they got there they learned that an 84-year-old man was trapped in the fire apartment on the third floor. Fighting through smoke so thick they had to crawl up staircases and on the floor, they managed not only to pull the victim to safety but also to confine the flames to the apartment in question, thereby preventing the fire from spreading and causing further injuries. Excellent work, guys.

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Police Officers Brian Williams and Gerard Czaja of the 47 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Alert, Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Apprehend an Armed and Dangerous Homicide Suspect.

These officers were on routine patrol when they were radioed a description of a heavily armed man wearing body armor and wanted for murdering his ex-girlfriend in Yonkers. They spotted the suspect and when he violently resisted questioning, they sprung into action. Without resorting to their own weapons, they subdued the suspect after a fierce physical struggle, relieving him of an Inter-Tec 9-millimeter, a Cobra M-11 9-millimeter, a Beretta 25-caliber semi-automatic handgun and the bullet-proof vest.

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Probationary Police Officer Israel Guillen of the 40 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken While Off Duty to Rescue His Own Father and Protect Other Innocent Civilians From an Armed Assailant.

Officer Guillen was off duty and with his father, shopping in the area of Broadway and West 175th Street, when a man grabbed the father’s arm and started dragging him around the corner at gunpoint. When he saw this, Officer Guillen produced his weapon and fired four or five times at the assailant, getting him in the front upper left torso. The perp fled, only to collapse on the street, where he was collared by other officers and taken to a hospital.

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Police Officers Alice Aragones, Darrin Dawber, Joey DelRio, Michael Dunn, Gregg Kane, Darryl Lucas, Emmett Macken and Jorge Tobon of the 25 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extraordinarily Brave and Valiant Action Taken With Total Disregard for Their Own Safety to Save the Lives of Many Civilians Who Would Have Otherwise Perished During the September 11th, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.

It may seem a little late to be honoring these officers their heroism on 9/ll, but several of them were out with injuries for a year or more, so this has been our first chance to do it. When these cops entered the mezzanine level of the World Trade Center beneath the north tower, both buildings had been struck and were on fire. At first, they helped evacuate the buildings and prevented more people from entering the complex and the PATH and subway stations. After the south tower collapsed, they were trapped in the unlit, debris-strewn, dust-encrusted sub-basement until they were able to find their way along the concourse wall to a stairwell that led to the street. They led a number of civilians to safety with them. Undoubtedly, their disregard for their own safety and their bravery in an extreme situation prevented additional loss of life at this historically tragic event.

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Police Officers Thomas Donovan and Joseph Reale of the 20 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Alert, Intelligent and Tactically Proficient Action Taken to Apprehend a Serial Bank Robber, Helping to Halt a Wave of Bank Robberies in Manhattan North.

These officers, assigned to the two-oh Precinct’s community policing unit, were conducting an independent canvas of an area on the upper west side when they got word of an unsuccessful bank robbery attempt nearby. Believing the perp might try again at another bank in the area, they focused their attention on a branch on West 62nd Street. Sure enough, a man fitting the suspect’s description soon appeared on the scene. The detained the suspect, conducted a show-up with the teller from the first bank and were able to arrest the suspect without incident.

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Police Officer Michael Gerbasi of the First Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extraordinarily Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Rescue Civilians Despite Being Critically Injured Himself During the September 11th, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center Towers. Police Officer Anthony Cozzi of the First Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extraordinarily Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Save the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and the Lives of Many Civilians During the September 11th, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.

When these officers arrived at the World Trade Center site on 9/11, only the north tower had been struck. They immediately assessed the situation and, without regard for their own safety, began rescue and evacuation efforts, guiding civilians to safety, performing emergency first aid and insuring that the most critically injured received professional medical care. When the south tower was struck, debris rained down on the officers and Officer Gerbasi was seriously injured on his right arm and back. Noticing that Officer Gerbasi was bleeding profusely and had suffered blunt trauma, Officer Cozzi lifted his partner over his shoulder and carried him to the nearest ambulance. If not for this immediate medical attention, he might have succumbed to the injuries.

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Police Officer Jo Ann Spreen of the First Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extraordinarily Brave and Valiant Action and Superior Tactical Skill Shown While Being Critically Injured While Rescuing Civilians During the September 11th, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.

Officer Spreen, on scooter patrol, also got to the north tower just after the first plane struck and was instrumental in the implementation of the coordinated evacuation effort that resulted in thousands of civilians being guided to safety. When the second plane struck, she was struck on the head and knocked unconscious by the debris. She suffered a concussion, severe lacerations requiring 30 stitches. But thanks to her, many lives were saved.

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Police Officer Peter Garrido of the 77 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Protect His Life and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer While Being Wounded in a Struggle With an Armed Assailant. And Daniel Perez of the 77 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Protect His Life and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer Who Was Wounded in a Struggle With an Armed Assailant.

These officers were on anti-crime patrol when, pursuant to a robbery pattern in the area, they stopped and questioned a suspicious man several times. Finally, the suspect – saying he didn’t want to go back to jail – started to reach for a weapon. During a physical struggle with the officers, a Smith & Wesson 40-caliber semi-automatic fell from the perp’s rear waistband but he grabbed another handgun from his front waistband and began firing. One bullet struck Officer Garrido in his right foot and another struck his protective vest. Despite his injuries, however, Officer Garrido used the perp’s other weapon to wound the suspect.

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Police Officers Dorothy Levine and Roman Zlonkiewicz of the 77 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Alert and Valiant Action Taken to Save the Life of a Three-Year-old Child and to Subdue the Child’s Knife-Wielding Assailant.

The scene that encountered these officers when they got to the second-floor apartment on dispute call was a horrific one. An emotionally disturbed woman was straddling her own three-year-old child and slashing at his throat with a knife. Fearing the child would be further injured or killed, these officers took swift action. They called out several times for the woman to drop the knife and, when she failed to comply, Officer Levine fired once, striking the woman in the side and causing her to stand. Then, while Officer Zlonkiewicz wrestled with the woman, Officer Levine pulled the child to safety.

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Police Officers Kevin Gallagher, Frank Pellegrino, Karl Zarr, James Arca and Gerard Pacella of the Harbor Unit are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken at Great Risk to Their Own Lives to Rescue the Victims of a Capsized Boat in New York Harbor in Dangerous Weather Conditions.

The escapade these officers were involved in happened on August 1st, 2001, about six weeks before 9/11 – which is why it took us until now to give them the recognition they deserve. Responding to an unfounded call of a downed helicopter, Officers Gallagher and Pellegrino were on an Aviation Unit air-sea rescue helicopter, Officers Zarr and Arca were on Harbor launch #32 and Officer Pacella on launch #38. They were alerted to a capsized boat with one man holding on to the stern, two others holding on to the bow and a boy on the hull, clinging to the keel. All four were without life jackets. The seas were turbulent, to say the least. Officers Gallagher and Pellegrino dived from the helicopter into the waves and the others approached the victims by launch. The dangers and misadventures all these cops encountered and survived during this drama on the high seas are too numerous to mention here – all the cops suffered injuries of one kind or another – but they pulled off the rescue in spectacular fashion – and the victims were found to be in stable condition with no apparent injuries.

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Police Officer Michael Kreiman of the 63 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life in a Pitched Gun Battle With a Murderous Suspect.

After taking part in an arrest at an auto-stripping scene, Officer Kreiman was assigned to sit in a marked RMP near the stolen vehicles pending the arrival of auto crime and department tow. A man approached and identified himself as the owner of one of the cars. Soon, the cop was signaling a 10-13 as the man started shooting at him from behind a fence. Despite being hit in the abdomen, Officer Kreiman returned fire. The suspect fled but was soon arrested and charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a firearm and criminal possession of stolen property.

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Police Officers Gary Sellars and Emil Dzurilla of the 115 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Quick-Thinking, Brave and Valiant Action and Tactical Excellence in Apprehending Two Armed and Dangerous Robbers.

No sooner had these officers responded to a report of a commercial robbery, when they spotted two hooded men carrying bags coming out of a check-cashing store. These cops acted quickly in an extremely dangerous situation. They arrested one of the men after ordering him to stop and the other man after a short foot chase. The pair had tied up the two women in the store with duct tape and emptied the safe of almost $130,000 in cash, Metro cards and telephone cards. The cops recovered the take – plus the loaded .25-caliber automatic carried by one of the perps.

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Police Officers Carl Robinson and Michael McCabe of the 101 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Dangerous Assailant.

After hearing several shots, these officers encountered a man who appeared to be firing a rifle and a handgun at other officers. When they ordered him to drop the weapons, he turned and fired two rounds at them from the handgun. After a short chase, they caught up with the perp and again ordered him to show his hands. When he failed to comply, they opened fire, stopping the suspect and ending the danger to themselves, other cops and innocent bystanders.

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Police Officers Albert Davide and Michael Isler of the 103 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Alert, Brave and Valiant Action Taken While Off Duty to Apprehend a Murder Suspect. And Police Officer William Treubig of the Suffolk County Highway Patrol is named the Finest of the Finest Extremely Alert, Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Apprehend a Murder Suspect.

Officers Davide and Isler had just finished their overnight tour and were driving home on the Southern State Parkway when they spotted a black 2000 Chevy Suburban whose license plate matched that of a fugitive murder suspect. After verifying the plate number with detectives in the 103 squad and notifying Suffolk County cops, the followed the vehicle onto the Long Island Expressway as far as Happauge, where the suspect crashed the car and fled on foot. They chased the suspect and – with the help of Officer Treubig – made the collar.

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Police Officer Mark Harris of Transit District 4 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken While Off Duty to Apprehend Two Suspects, One of Them Armed With an Assault Rifle.

This officer was off duty when he saw two men exchanging gunfire on the street. When Officer Harris identified himself, one of the gunmen shot at him with an assault rifle. The Officer returned fire, getting the gunman twice, stopping the fireworks. He arrested the other gunman without incident.

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Police Officers Josue Barreto and Patricia Figaro of Transit District 12 are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Dangerous Suspect.

Officer Figaro followed a turnstile jumper onto the subway platform and observed him acting suspiciously. He looked like he was about to throw himself onto the tracks and in front of a train. When she questioned the man, he grabbed for her weapon, trying to turn it on himself. Then Officer Barreto, responding to a 10-13, came to her aid. The suspect wrested the weapon from Officer Figaro and pointed it at Officer Barreto, who fired twice, stopping the suspect. They were then able to arrest the suspect with no further incident. Officer Figaro suffered a broken ankle in the struggle.

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Police Officer Michael Puhl of PSA 3 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers By Apprehending a Shooter Without Firing his Own Weapon.

While on a crowd-control assignment, Officer Puhl saw a man aim a handgun at him and other police officers. The suspect fired five shots in their direction and then fled into a nearby building and up a staircase. Without firing his weapon, Officer Puhl, at great risk to his own life, chased the suspect up the staircase and subdued him without further incident. A 30-caliber revolver with five spent shells and one live round in the cylinder was recovered in the stairwell.

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Police Officer John Boyle of the 75 Pct. and Police Officers Freddy Vega, Christopher Scarry and Raymond Gutierrez of the 90 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in an Exchange of Gunfire with an Armed Robber.

These officers were conducting a roof-top search for a suspect who had shot a victim in an attempted robbery. After a long search, they spotted the suspect, who pegged three shots at the officers. They answered with 24 shots, striking the perp five times. They arrested him without any injury to officers.

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