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

or Joseph Mancini
212-298-9150

January 21, 2009
For Immediate Release




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“FINEST OF THE FINEST” AWARDS

The second New York City police officer to sacrifice his life in combat in the war on terror, two resourceful officers who saved the life of a baby suffering a seizure outside City Hall, officers who rescued would-be suicides, and others who defended innocent lives in shootouts with criminals are among the 32 police officers and four sergeants honored today (Thursday, Jan. 22) at the PBA’s perennial “Finest of the Finest” awards luncheon.

The event was held at Manhattan’s Water Club, 30th St. and East River Drive.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch, who presented each honoree with a commemorative plaque, said: “Of all the recognition our members receive, these mean the most to them because they have been judged by their peers – other police officers. This makes them special.”

Following is a list of all the honorees and descriptions of the incidents for which they were recognized.



HOUSING

Police Officers Robert Romano and Lynwood Pleasant and Sergeant Joseph Jette of PSA 2 are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives, the Lives of Fellow Police Officers and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in an Exchange of Gunfire With an Armed Assailant.

These officers were in plainclothes in an unmarked car patrolling a high-crime area known for heavy gun traffic, when they spotted a man acting suspiciously. When they got out of the car to confront him, he wheeled around and began to open fire. They returned the compliment and he was DOA at the scene.

Police Officer Patrick Plunkett of PSA 4 is named Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken While Off Duty and While Being Injured in a Violent Struggle With an Apparently Armed Bank Robber.

Officer Plunkett was off duty, minding his own business, standing on a bank line in Queens when another man on line pulled what looked like a 38-caliber handgun and passed a note to a teller demanding cash. Officer Plunkett saw the weapon, crept up behind the gunman and got him in a headlock. He wrestled the gun out of the robber’s hand, losing a tooth in the struggle, and placed him under arrest. The gun, by the way, turned out to be a realistic fake. This would-be bank-robber had chosen the wrong bank. 

MANHATTAN NORTH

Police Officers Richard Pengel and Delwyn Davis of the 32 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives, the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With an Armed Suspect.

On anti-crime patrol in an unmarked RMP, these officers responded to a signal 10-10 – two males with a gun. They parked their car in the vicinity of the call and proceeded on foot until they observed two men fitting the description. One man saw the officers coming and started to run for it. The officers gave chase, identifying themselves as police officers and ordering him to stop. During the pursuit the officers saw that the fugitive was armed and they ordered him numerous times to drop the weapon, but he turned and aimed it toward them. So the cops opened fire, and the suspect was DOA at the hospital.

Police Officer James O’Hara of the 33 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life, the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With a Suspect Believed to Be Armed.

Officer O’Hara and a sergeant were on routine patrol when they received a radio call regarding a dark-colored Volvo with New Jersey plates that was wanted in connection with a robbery in which one of the participants was believed to be armed. Soon they saw a car fitting the description and began following it. The car abruptly stopped, the occupant got out and pointed what appeared to be black revolver at the officers. Officer O’Hara proceeded to pursue the suspect on foot. After ordering the suspect to drop his gun, the officer began firing at him. “Don’t shoot me,” the suspect begged and surrendered.

BROOKLYN NORTH

Police Officer Ernest Kenner of the 73 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life, the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With an Armed Suspect.

While in a car with his sergeant, Officer Kenner heard shots fired and was able to determine that the vehicle they came from was a minivan just two or three car lengths in front of them. They also saw a female fall to the pavement and believed that she had been shot. They pursued the minivan, with lights and sirens going. After a twisting-and-turning chase, the suspect vehicle spun out of control and collided with a pole. The perp got out of the vehicle, retrieved a handgun and tried to get lost in a crowd of passersby. While in foot pursuit, Officer Kenner ordered him to drop the gun, and when the perp failed to do so, he fired twice, hitting the suspect and stopping the threat.

Police Officer Anthony Cordero of ESU #8 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Tactically Intelligent Action Taken to Disarm a Suicidal Emotionally Disturbed Person Who Had Been Holding a Pistol to His Chest.

For the emotionally disturbed person in this case, it was suicide-by-his-own-hand or suicide-by cop. He didn’t care which. He was depressed about a recent bank-robbery conviction and didn’t want to go back to prison. So he sat on his sofa pointing a gun at his chest and asking to be shot. After many attempts by the hostage negotiation team to talk him out of it, Officer Cordero used a Taser to subdue him and he was carted off to the hospital with no further incident. His 38-caliber had five live rounds in it.

QUEENS SOUTH

Police Officers Edward Moore, Douglas Rome and Christopher Dallesandro 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 Violent Felon.

In plainclothes and an unmarked car, these officers saw a man they believed was wanted for weapons possession. Officer Moore, with his shield around his neck and being careful to announce that he was a police officer, got out of the car to question the suspect – who immediately tried to flee the scene. Officer Moore pursued on foot, joined by Officer Rome, while Officer Dalessandro shadowed the action in the car. The suspect drew his weapon, stumbled and fell, but managed to point and fire at Officer Moore, who returned fire in self-defense. The suspect was DOA at the hospital.

Police Officer Charles Steiger and Sergeant Kenneth Russo of the 106 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 a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant.

These officers were in uniform on Impact overtime in an unmarked RMP when they spotted four men talking on cell phones, acting suspiciously and making evasive movements when they noticed they were being watched. One suspect fled on foot and Officer Steiger gave chase, with Sgt. Russo following in the car. The suspect whirled around, pointing a 40-caliber Smith & Wesson at his pursuers and ignoring their commands to drop the gun. Officers Steiger and Russo fired their weapons and continued to chase the suspect until they collared him cowering behind a backyard swimming pool, with gunshot wounds in the buttock, thigh and hand.

BRONX

Police Officers Robert Regnier, Humberto Morales, Joseph Stynes and Sergeant Angel Torres of the PBBX Anti-Crime Unit 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 Violent Felon.

On routine anti-crime patrol in an unmarked RMP, these officers were flagged down by two men who – it turned out – were up to no good. When the men realized the vehicle they hailed was filled with cops, they began to run. A gun butt was visible in one man’s waistband, and the officers chased that one, in their vehicle and then on foot. The suspect began firing at the officers, who returned fire. They finally cornered and apprehended the suspect where he had hidden in a fenced-in lot. He was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the left shoulder.

Police Officers Socrates Soto, Abraham Villavizar and Luis Rodriguez of the Bronx Auto Larceny Unit 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 a Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Assailant.

While on routine patrol, these officers noticed a car change lanes without signaling, punched in a plate-check on the vehicle and discovered it had been reported stolen in a knife-point hijacking in Hartford, Connecticut. After double-checking, they called for backup and went after the suspect vehicle with lights and sirens. They had little trouble collaring one of the suspects but the second one jumped out of the car and pulled a large knife. When he refused to drop the weapon and lunged at the officers, he was shot in the right thigh and placed under arrest.

TRANSIT

Police Officers Vincent Ozaeta and Jose Tosado and Sergeant Lorenzo Molinaro of Transit District #34 are named the Finest of the Finest for Intelligent and Humanitarian Action Taken to Prevent a Suicidal Man From Killing Himself on the Third Rail of the Subway Tracks.

An EDP was sitting on the protective covering of the third-rail, threatening to kill himself. That was the scene these officers confronted when they answered the call. The man kept waving his arms, trying to touch the third rail, saying he had nothing to live for. While P.O. Ozaeta managed to distract the man, the other officers grabbed him and kept him from harming himself.

Police Officer Deon Taylor of Transit District #3 is named the Finest of the Finest for Patriotic and Unselfish Service to His Country and to the Cause of Freedom by Making the Supreme Sacrifice in the War Against Terror in Afghanistan.

The nation, the city and the NYPD owes an eternal debt of gratitude to Police Officer and Army National Guard Sergeant Deon Taylor – and to his family, for producing this hero. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan brought an untimely end to his life, but his legacy lives on, in his service to his nation and in the cousins and the brother who followed in his footsteps to the NYPD. They will keep his memory and his service alive.

MANHATTAN SOUTH

Police Officers John Francis and Robert Oles of Intel are named the Finest of the Finest for Intelligent, Quick-Thinking and Humanitarian Action Taken to Save the Life of a 13-Month-Old Girl Who Had Stopped Breathing.

“We wanted to save the baby.” That was the only thing on the minds and lips of these officers when they saw what condition the 13-month old girl was in, whose mother was screaming for help outside the City Hall gates. The child, who suffers from seizures, was limp and in a precarious state when Officer Oles snatched her from her mother’s arms and rushed her to City Hall – where he and Officer Francis work – and where he knew he could get and oxygen mask. While Officer Francis administered CPR, he obtained the life-saving equipment and they were able to bring the baby back to life. Mission accomplished. 

LOWER MANHATTAN & RICHMOND

Police Officer Joel Sixx of the 120 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Tactically Intelligent Action Taken to Apprehend an Armed Perpetrator.

While on routine patrol, Officer Sixx heard a gunshot. After a diligent search of the area, he saw a man putting a gun into his waistband. After calling for backup, he approached the suspect, who began to run. Officer Sixx chased the suspect on foot, caught up with him and disarmed and collared him without further incident. 

BROOKLYN SOUTH

Police Officer Benjamin White of the Brooklyn South Narcotics Borough 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 and Innocent Bystanders in an Exchange of Gunfire With Violent Criminals.

Officer White was on patrol with a lieutenant when they got word from under-covers about a large disorderly group leaving a local establishment. On their way to the scene, they saw a Dodge Charger that drove around them and through the intersection. Two men armed with guns got out of the Charger and fired into a crowd that was fighting in the street. When they saw the officers, they fired at them. Officer White returned fire and both suspects were DOA.

Police Officers Daniel Darby, Julio Rodriguez and Tsering Yougyal of the 76 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 and Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant.

Responding to a 10-59, these officers heard gunshots and then saw a man running along the sidewalk with a gun in his hand. They yelled, “Police! Don’t move” and ordered him to drop his weapon but got the gun pointed in their direction in response. The officers opened fire, hitting the gunman in the right foot, left calf and right buttock, and took his 40-caliber Sig Sauer away from him.

Police Officer Devin Long of the 67 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Intelligent Action Taken to Apprehend an Armed Perpetrator.

While on motor patrol and assigned to the precinct SNEU team, this officer approached a man who was about to urinate in public against a loading dock. The suspect fled on foot and Officer Long got out of the car to chase him. While running away, the suspect pulled a gun and pointed it at his pursuer, who fired once and missed. But then the officer cornered the suspect, who had dropped his weapon, and subdued him without further incident. He turned out to be a 21-year-old with eleven prior arrests.

Police Officer Susan Porcello of the 68 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Humanitarian and Selfless Action Taken in Befriending a World War II Marine Veteran and Making Sure He Was Not Buried in Potter’s Field.

This story began for Officer Porcello when she responded to an ambulance call to 84-year-old Gaspar Musso’s one-bedroom apartment. Mr. Musso, she noticed, was not only ill but also downhearted. She also noticed – from memorabilia in his tidy apartment – that he was an ex-Marine who had served in World War II. “I have no family or friends,” he told the cop. “Well, I’m your friend,” she told him. And she was. She saw that his last years were made easier, had him located in a comfortable nursing home, visited him often and had him over for the holidays and – when the time came – paid for his funeral with the help of her mates at the 68, and spared him an anonymous burial in potter’s field. In fact, she made sure that taps was played as he was buried next to his mother at Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island.

QUEENS NORTH

Police Officers Anthony Scavetta and Jason Hernandez of the 108 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Tactically Intelligent and Humanitarian Action Taken to Rescue an Attempted Suicide From the Queensboro Bridge.

These officers saw a man hanging off the scaffolding of the upper roadway of the Queensboro Bridge. The suicidal man was just about to let go and plunge to his death when they took swift action. At great risk to their own safety, they lunged at him, grabbed both his arms and pulled him to safety.

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