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

or Joseph Mancini
212-298-9150

November 21, 2013
For Immediate Release


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PBA HONORS ITS OWN
AT “FINEST OF THE FINEST” LUNCHEON

A New York City police officer who, in saving a woman’s life, inspired her 10-year-old son to begin thinking of becoming a cop himself was among the 37 police officers and three sergeants honored today (Thursday, Nov. 21) at the PBA's traditional ‘Finest of the Finest’ luncheon at which the police union’s 24,000 members honor their peers.

Also among those cited were the officers who prevented the man who committed the August 2012 grudge killing outside the Empire State Building from taking more innocent lives. Other officers honored at the ceremony, held at the Water Club at East 30th St. and the East River Drive, braved guns and knives and flames and sickness and death to earn the accolades of their fellow officers.

“We consider this a New York City police officer’s most important award,” says PBA President Pat Lynch, “because, as I always say, we award it to each other.” The following is an incident-by-incident account of the deeds for which the officers were cited:


The Bronx

Police Officers Eugene V. Donnelly and Ryan Bracconeri of the 46 Precinct 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 and Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant.

These officers were off duty and in their private cars on the way to a mutual engagement when they saw several men running out of a park being chased by youth armed with a gun. The gunman pegged one shot into the park and fled. Both officers gave chase. Officer Donnelly shouted, “Police, don’t move,” but got a Raven Arms 25-caliber pistol pointed at him in response.

The gunman fired once at Officer Donnelly, who returned fire, wounding the suspect. He tried to get away but Officer Bracconeri chased him into the apprehending arms of on-duty cops.

Police Officers Robert Sinistaj and Craig Matthews of PBBX 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 a Confrontation With an Armed Killer.

They’re Bronx police officers but Robert Sinistaj and Craig Matthews were posted in Manhattan, outside the Empire State Building, on the well-publicized day of the incident that brings them here today. A man with a grudge had just assassinated his former co-worker on a busy city sidewalk and, after a witness pointed him out, the officers had only an instant to react when the suspect whirled around and pointed a .45-caliber pistol at them. They had no choice but to shoot, stopping the threat permanently, and saving not only their own lives but also the lives of an untold number of innocent bystanders.


Lower Manhattan & Staten Island

Police Officers Michael Smith and Gregory Gordon of the 120 Precinct 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 a Confrontation With an Armed Robber.

Acting on confidential information that a late-night armed robbery was about to be committed, these officers zeroed in on the suspect who fled down the street. As the officers gave chase, the would-be robber turned and pointed his gun at them. That was a mistake. The officers fired one round each, the gunman was collared and hospitalized — and the robbery never happened.

Police Officers Daniel Castillo and Michael Manley of the 122 Precinct 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 a Confrontation With an Armed Robber.

In a scene right out of “Pulp Fiction,” these officers were having a cup of coffee in a diner when a masked man armed with a loaded semi-automatic burst in and announced a holdup. The cops identified themselves and drew their weapons but the masked man refused to drop his. Instead, he ran outside to his car, still pointing his weapon, and got hit by one of several bullets fired by the pursuing officers. He managed to drive his car out of the lot, crashing it into fences and walls along the way, but soon wound up disarmed and cuffed.


Manhattan South

Police Officers Michael Massett and Peter Rogers of the Midtown South Precinct 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 a Knife-Wielding Assailant.

The man had pulled a knife on officers who were trying to arrest him for smoking marijuana on a street corner. He had refused several orders to drop the knife and continued brandishing the weapon in his right hand and with an overhand grip. The pepper spray the officers had sprayed him with on more than one occasion had no effect. Then these officers came on the scene. They cut his retreat off with their vehicle and confronted him. Another dose of pepper spray had no effect. Then he lunged at Officer Massett with the knife and was cut down in a hail of bullets from Officers Massett and Rogers.

Police Officers Paula Winters of PBMS and John Lopes of the Police Academy are named the Finest of the Finest for Resourceful, Quick-Thinking and Compassionate Action Taken to Save the Life of a Fellow Police Officer Who Had Suffered a Heart Attack.

On the morning of March 5th at the Police Academy where they were on duty, Officer Winters and Officer Brian McKee were exercising when McKee collapsed into unconsciousness. Officer Winters’ call for help, which came in the form of Officer Lopes, and the pair went swiftly to work, performing CPR and applying the automated external defibrillator. Their quick and capable action in keeping their fellow officer alive until EMS personnel got to the scene was the crucial component in saving McKee’s life.


Brooklyn North

Police Officer Martin Hayes and Sergeant Danielle Roventini of the 73 Precinct 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 a Confrontation With a Pair of Gunmen.

A shots-fired call led Police Officer Hayes and Sergeant Roventini to an Atlantic Avenue rooftop where a man with a gun seemed to be pointing his weapon at an adjoining rooftop where another man, also apparently armed, was crouched in a combat position. Warning shouts of “police, drop the gun” got nowhere and, when the suspect pointed his weapon at the sergeant, both officers fired and stopped the threat. Two suspects with long arrest records were taken into custody.

Police Officer Richard Galvez of the 75 Precinct 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 While Being Injured in a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant and Police Officer Jonathan McMilleon of the 75 Precinct 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 in a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant.

Responding to a report of shots fired, these officers encountered two men wrestling with each other for control of a handgun. One man seemed to have the upper hand and the other man was yelling, “He’s trying to shoot me.” The suspect gained control of the weapon and pointed it at Officer Galvez, who got off one round in self-defense. The suspect ran and hid under a parked car but he was soon apprehended and the weapon was recovered.

Police Officer Stephen Dimario of the 83 Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Life of Fellow Police Officers in a Confrontation With an Armed Assailant.

“Man with a gun,” is the way it started, and it ended with this officer face-to-face with that man with a gun. After a car chase involving several other cops, Officer Dimario maneuvered his unmarked car in such a way as to stop the gunman’s vehicle and then — in a gun-to-gun showdown — stopped him permanently with a single bullet.


Manhattan North

Police Officer Devon Davis of the 19th Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Fugitive.

This incident started when a disorderly group of about 10 men on Eighth Avenue and 143rd Street attracted the attention of New York City police officers. One of the men bolted from the group after he saw the cops — an indication that he might have been armed — and several officers chased him.

Officer Davis apparently was the swiftest. He got within five feet of the suspect and ordered him to drop the gun. The suspect fired his weapon instead — missing. Officer Davis didn’t miss — twice.

Police Officer Eder Loor of the 23 Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Valiant Action Taken to Protect a Fellow Police Officer and the General Public While Being Injured in a Violent Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Emotionally Disturbed Person and Police Officer Merisme Luckson of the 23 Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Valiant Action Taken to Save the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and to Protect the General Public While Apprehending a Knife-Wielding Emotionally Disturbed Person.

In the interest of public safety on a busy Manhattan North street, these officers tried to stop a known EDP and detain him for his own protection.

The man responded by pulling a knife, with which he stabbed Officer Loor in the right temple. Although bleeding profusely, Officer Loor, with Officer Merrisme’s help, managed to staunch the wound and flag down an ambulance for help. After seeing his partner to safety, Officer Merisme chased the man, who had dropped the knife, and was picked up by other officers.

Police Officer Nelson Vergara of PBMN is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Valiant Action Taken to Protect His Life and the Lives of Civilians While Being Shot in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Violent Assailant.

This officer was off duty and walking to his home in the Bronx when he encountered a man with a gun getting out of a car and shooting at another man. Officer Vergara engaged in a gun battle with the shooter, getting hit twice himself, but managing to stop the threat with one bullet. Because of Officer Vergara’s intervention, the shooting victim survived, as did the shooter. Officer Vergara, of course, is here with us today.


Brooklyn South

Police Officers Bradley Tirol, Benigno Gonzalez, Lyheem Oliver and Sambath Ouk and Sergeant Patrick Quigley of the 76 Precinct are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Valiant Action Taken to Protect Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in a Violent Confrontation With an Armed Attempted Murderer.

These officers were involved in a foot pursuit and then a violent struggle with a suspect who was proving almost impossible to subdue. Even when his right hand was cuffed, he continued to struggle to conceal his left hand.

The reason was that it was holding a 9-millimeter handgun. When he pointed at the officers, Sergeant Quigley stopped him with one shot. DOA.

Police Officers Keith Dsouza and Daniel Loffredo of the 76 Precinct are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Intelligent and Valiant Action Taken to Protect Their Lives and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in a Violent Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Attempted Murderer.

Answering a male-stabbed call, these officers encountered the victim, who had a stab wound to his right shoulder. And then they soon encountered the stabber, who was approaching them from behind. The man had his hands in his pockets and refused to comply with orders to show his hands. When he got within five feet, he lunged at them with the knife in his right hand.

Officer Loffredo stumbled and fell but still managed to get off eight rounds while Officer Dsouza squeezed off one. All nine bullets found their mark.

The attempted murderer was DOA.

Police Officer Jovaniel Cordova and Sergeant Mourad Mourad of PBBS are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Protect Their Lives and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in a Violent Confrontation With an Armed Attempted Murderer.

Another attempted murderer figured in this incident. These officers, on anti-crime patrol, spotted a man walking from a suspicious location and adjusting his waistband. When the officers got out of their car and approached the suspect, he confirmed their suspicions by drawing a firearm and pointing it at them. The officers were quicker to the trigger, and the gunman was DOA.


Queens North

Police Officers Eric Iocco, Nicholas Basilone, Sharna Durham and Kevin Golden of the 111th Precinct 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 Life of an Innocent Victim in a Confrontation With a Murderous and Suicidal Knife-Wielding Man.

A crazed and suicidal man was stabbing himself but apparently wanted to take somebody else with him, because when these officers encountered him, he was trying to stab a woman, who was screaming and covered with blood. When they approached, he turned on the officers, waving his knife at them. One shot from Officer Iocco wasn’t enough — the man stumbled and came at them again.

Continuous calls to drop the weapon had no effect. Another police bullet stopped him permanently.


Queens South

Police Officer Joseph Koch of the 101 Precinct is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Quick-Thinking, Brave and Valiant Action Taken While Being Injured and While Off Duty to Defend His Life and the Life of an Innocent Woman Being Stabbed by a Murderous Assailant.

This incident happened last Father’s Day. Ten-year old Jacob Rodriguez was screaming for help as his mother was being savagely beaten by a man.

Off-duty, Officer Koch was nearby at a Father’s day celebration with his family. He heard the screams and ran to investigate. He struggled with the violent man and was injured in the process but he saved the woman’s life and took a violent criminal off the streets. Young Jacob told a reporter: “I’m thinking about becoming a police officer because of what Joe did. He saved my mom and me. Maybe I can do that for others.”


Transit

Police Officers Eddie Wong and Annette Lancaster of Transit District 34 are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Resourceful and Valiant Action Taken at the Risk of Their Own Lives and While Being Injured to Save the Lives of Two People Trapped in a Burning Automobile.

These officers happened to be nearby when a car crashed into an elevated train platform stanchion and burst into flames. Without regard for their own safety, they smashed the car’s windows to provide ventilation and then managed to pry open the driver’s side door. They pulled out the male driver but had trouble getting to the female passenger. While fighting the flames with a fire extinguisher, they pulled her out through a broken window.

Everyone, including the cops, was injured, but everyone also survived.

Police Officers Michael Levay and Lukasz Kozicki of Transit District 34 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 While Being Wounded in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Murderous Gunman.

Officers Levay and Kozicki were in plainclothes on patrol aboard a Manhattan-bound N train in Brooklyn when they observed walking from one car to another in violation of transit rules. The officers approached and asked him for identification. Under the pretense of reaching for his wallet, the suspect produced a 9-millimeter Taurus handgun instead and opened fire.

Officer Kozicki was struck three times and Officer Levay once but Levay was able to return fire, killing the gunman. The officers, thank God, are with us here today.


Housing

Police Officer Augustine Gonzalez of PSA 5 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Violent Confrontation With a Chain-Swinging Emotionally Disturbed Person.

Officer Gonzalez was on his post inside a housing development on the east side of Third Avenue at 103rd Street when he heard screams coming from the opposite side of the street. A deranged man had just injured a victim by hitting him with a four-foot-long steel chain, which he now was swinging at other passersby. Officer Gonzalez confronted the EDP, ordering him to drop the weapon, while pointing his firearm at the man. The EDP lurched forward as if to attack the officer with the chain and Officer Gonzalez stepped back and stopped the threat with one bullet, hospitalizing the man.

Police Officer Ian Brannon of PSA 7 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life, the Lives of Fellow Police Officers and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Violent Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Wife-Stabber.

The suspect had stabbed his wife eight times, seriously wounding her, but he wasn’t finished with his violence. When Officer Brannon arrived at the crime scene, the suspect came after him with the knife as well. But Officer Brannon put a stop to the threat with one bullet to the torso. Everyone survived the ordeal, most importantly Officer Brannon.

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