Staten Island Advance
February 1, 2008

Slain cop, sad partner among officers hailed by PBA Islander

Timoshenko was killed and Brooklynite Yan was wounded in shooting

By PHIL HELSEL
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER

Some were plainclothes cops who defended a fellow officer against a subway madman whose gun was pressed to her head.

Others rushed into two burning Bronx buildings, with flaming debris raining down upon them, to rescue a dozen people, including two infants.

And still another officer, off-duty at the time, ended a deranged man's Manhattan knife rampage with a bullet.

But there was one member of New York's Finest who didn't want the limelight or the near minute of standing applause he received yesterday, and who gladly would have given back the award for brave and valiant action yesterday if only he could change the past.

Under his black suit, Officer Herman Yan bore scars from the bullets that tore through his left wrist and chest last summer, when his partner, Officer Russel Timoshenko, was shot twice in the face as the two cops checked out a suspicious vehicle in Brooklyn on July 9. Timoshenko died five days later.

"It's an honor, but on the other hand, I don't really want to be here," said Yan, 27, of Brooklyn, who was able to describe the alleged killers, despite his wounds, helping lead to their arrests. "I wish it hadn't happened, but it did. It's hard."

Timoshenko, who had been on the job for a year and a half and had partnered with Yan a few months before his death, was named a "Finest of the Finest" by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association at The Water Club in Manhattan yesterday afternoon, along with 38 other officers.

The packed room rose at the mention of Timoshenko's name yesterday and applauded for almost a minute. The slain officer's family, who live on the Island, were unable to attend the ceremony but the PBA will deliver the plaque to them.

Dexter Bostic, 35, allegedly fired the .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun that took Timoshenko's life. He and two others in the car, Robert Ellis, 34, and Lee Woods, 29, have been charged in the officer's death and face life in prison if convicted.

"When there's danger and there's chaos, you'll always find a New York City police officer rushing towards it," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch at the start of yesterday's ceremony. "And we do. But something we sometimes don't think about is what that means . . . the reality is that they may never return to their families again."

Yan last visited Timoshenko's grave at Moravian Cemetery, New Dorp, a few weeks ago, right after the first of the year, along with the officer's family. He described it as a quiet scene, and recalled yesterday that even though the two officers had been partners for only a few months before that deadly morning, Timoshenko was "a guy who was very competent; someone I actually wanted to work with."

Yan went back to work this week at the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn, where both men were assigned before the shooting.

Also honored yesterday were Officers George Aguilar and Eric Loria of the Mid-Island's 122nd Precinct in New Dorp. The two officers were on patrol when a gas station holdup was reported on the North Shore in June. They sped toward the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge looking for the getaway car, a blue Volvo with out-of-state plates, when it sped into view.

Aguilar, a Stapleton resident, and Loria, of Mariners Harbor, drew their guns and ordered the suspect out of the car at gunpoint, but the arrest could have ended much differently: Underneath the driver's seat was a fake handgun that looked shockingly like the real thing -- and had been used to commit the robbery.

"I just thank God nobody got killed that day," said Loria, 33, who has been on the force for three years. "If he would have pulled it out . . . you just never know how you're going to react to that."

Phil Helsel is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at helsel@siadvance.com.