July 18, 2007

New Anti-Gun Ad Campaign Dubbed ‘Tribute' to Officer

Police officers lined up to say goodbye to Officer Russel Timoshenko yesterday just hours after the young man's violent death was invoked during Mayor Bloomberg's announcement of a new phase in his campaign against illegal guns.

Timoshenko, 23, was shot in the face last week by a group of alleged car thieves, who are now facing charges of first-degree murder.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who attended the slain officer's wake yesterday, said a new advertising campaign dubbed "Guns = Prison," which publicizes the state's recently enacted harsher gun laws, would be "a fitting tribute to Police Officer Timoshenko and all of our fallen heroes." The campaign, paid for by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, will feature provocative images and phrases such as, "All illegal guns in NYC come with a 3-year guarantee."

"The list goes on and on through the annals of the NYPD," Mr. Kelly said after ticking off the names of several police officers who were fatally shot on the job. "Gunfire is the dominant reason why 713 New York City police officers have been killed in the line of duty."

Yesterday, police officers from around the city lined up outside of a funeral home in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn to pay their respects at a wake for Timoshenko — mirroring a similar line of blue that had stretched out the doors of the hospital room where he died on Saturday.

The solemn officers who waited for more than an hour to file past his coffin described Timoshenko as "a great guy" who joked around, who "never had any confrontations with anybody," and "who always did the right thing."

Timoshenko had made 15 arrests during his short tenure with the NYPD — just one and half years. Both he and his partner, Herman Yan, were shot when they pulled over a stolen BMW. Mr. Yan survived.

"There's an awful lot of respect in that room today," the president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, said to reporters outside of the wake. Mr. Lynch, along with several of the officers who attended the wake yesterday, called for the death penalty for the trio of defendants accused in Timoshenko's murder, Dexter Bostic, 34, Robert Ellis, 34, and Lee Woods, 29.

New York State does not have the death penalty, and the mayor has discouraged federal prosecutors from attempting to take over the case.

After their arraignment yesterday on harsher charges following Timoshenko's death, the defendants are now waiting for a grand jury to decide whether they will be indicted.

The silence inside the funeral home yesterday was interrupted only by occasional sniffles as the officers paused to shake hands and hug Timoshenko's parents sitting a few feet from where he lay in his dress uniform, framed by flowers and clutching a rosary.

Timoshenko was an only child born in Belarus, and his parents and friends held on to hope that he might survive his gunshot wounds for nearly a week until doctors declared him brain dead on Saturday afternoon.