“Those being honored today intervened in a deadly terrorist attack, saved the lives of adults and babies, and put themselves in deadly situations to keep others safe,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch as he presided over the Finest of the Finest awards luncheon June 7.
“What makes these awards unique and special to those who receive them is that it is an honor bestowed upon them by their colleagues who are quick to recognize true courage or acts of great compassion among their ranks,” he said.
Fifty-three officers (46 Police Officers and seven Sergeants) were honored. They were:
P.O.s Ryan Nash, John Hasiotis, Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn, 1st Precinct, were on an unrelated call at Stuyvesant High School last Halloween when an Islamic terrorist drove a truck along Hudson River Park, killing eight people. The driver had crashed his truck into a school bus and was standing at an intersection waving two pistols when the officers converged on him. Officer Nash opened fire, wounding him and stopping the threat.
P.O./Det. Christopher Villanueva and P.O. Frank Contaldi, 25th Precinct, saw smoke pouring from a building and heard screams for help. They ran inside, fighting through smoke so thick they could barely see, and found a family with two small children between the third and fourth floors. Each officer carried one child downstairs as they led the family to safety. Then—at great personal risk—they re-entered the building and knocked on every door to make sure all tenants were safe. Both officers were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
P.O Matthew McGrath, 13th Precinct. Responding to a 911 call, Officer McGrath found a nanny with a two-month-old baby who was choking, barely breathing and bleeding from the mouth. He performed back slaps and finger swipes in an attempt to dislodge a wipe stuffed down the baby’s throat. The baby was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The nanny was arrested for attempted murder.
Pregnant Woman Stabbed
P.O.s Giselle Batista, Michael Daly and Jelfri Henriquez, Transit District 12, responded to a woman stabbed on a subway train. They arrested the suspect, who was being held by an angry mob, and rendered aid to the pregnant victim by staunching the blood flow from a severed neck artery until relieved by EMS.
P.O.s Daniel Velasquez and John Williams, Transit Manhattan Task Force, came to the aid of an unconscious 11-month girl and her parents at the Times Square subway station. They called an ambulance and administered CPR. Diagnosing the infant’s illness as a febrile seizure, they placed ice packs on her chest and legs to bring the fever down. She regained consciousness before being taken to Bellevue.
P.O.s Magdalena Witkowski and Steven Pedullo, 94th Precinct, confronted an armed man who had just robbed two victims. As they got out of their car, he opened fire at them while screaming, “Kill me!” The officers returned fire. “An apparent case of suicide by cop,” the PBA said.
P.O. John Flanagan and Sgt. Alberto Puente, 46th Precinct. Responding to a report of a man with a firearm, Officer Flanagan kicked in a locked bedroom door. The two officers saw a man pointing a gun at a woman on the bed. “Drop the gun,” they ordered. Instead, he pointed it at them and they opened fire, killing him.
EDP Wouldn’t Give Up
P.O.s Redmond Murphy, Mark Fleming and Jesus Ramos, 47th Precinct. Performing a wellness check on a mentally-ill man, the officers found him waving a knife and holding a simulated handgun. Attempts to get him to drop his weapon, have friends and relatives calm him down, and subdue him with a Taser all failed. The officers had no choice but to open fire, killing him.
P.O.s Sean Liscoe, Juan Martinez, Brian O’Neill and Douglas Yagual and Sgt. Paul O’Connor, 45th Precinct. Officer Yagual, conducting social-media surveillance, found a Facebook post showing a man standing by a police car displaying a handgun. His words and pose threatened violence against police officers. Anti-crime officers Liscoe and Marti spotted the suspect. He attempted to flee but was arrested by Officer O’Neill and Sergeant O’Connor.
P.O. Edward Delacruz and Sgt. Anthony Demonte, 123rd Precinct. The officers found two men on the edge of a wooded area, test-firing weapons. When the officers approached, the men turned their weapons on them. The officers returned fire, wounding one of them. The other fled into the woods but was eventually apprehended.
P.O.s Adolfo Peralta and Kevin Gleason and Sgt. Mark Amundson, Midtown North Precinct. A store employee notified the officers of a disorderly customer. Officer Gleason escorted the offender outside, where the men threatened to kill him and, during an attempt to handcuff him, pulled out a knife. He charged at Officers Amundson and Peralta, who ordered him to drop the weapon. When he didn’t, they opened fire, killing him.
Wouldn’t Drop Gun
P.O.s Kevin Morgan and James Argila and Sgt. Jeffrey Liu, 75th Precinct. These two anti-crime officers were surveilling a location connected to a gang shooting and on the lookout for retaliatory violence. They caught up with a man who was running from the area. He pointed a handgun at them. Ignoring orders to drop his weapon, he opened fire. The officers shot back. A chase followed, and when they caught up with him again, they found him mortally wounded.
P.O. Elias Khan and Sgt. Daniel McKeefrey, 62nd Precinct, were chasing a fleeing burglary suspect through a backyard and over a fence when he pointed his firearm at them and ordered them not to move. The officers fired, killing him
P.O.s Miguel Gonzalez, Adam Gierlachowski, Maria Figueroa and Joseph Nolasco, 67th Precinct.These officers were confronted with an EDP advancing on them with a large kitchen knife. Officer Gierlachowski used his Taser, but although it struck the assailant, it didn’t stop the assault. The man lunged at the officer, knocking him down. He was on top of the officer when a fellow officer had no choice but to fire, killing him.
P.O.s Nordwing Veszter and Daniel Jasinski, Strategic Response Group 4, stopped a car and noticed a strong smell of marijuana as they approached it. Loose marijuana was visible on the back seat and a black plastic bag sat on the floor behind the driver’s seat. That bag contained about 10 pounds of bricks of cocaine. The officers arrested the two men inside.
Cache of Equipment
P.O.s Greg Lewza and Elizabeth Laboy, Strategic Response Group 4. These officers stopped a car for what they suspected was a forged Federal Police plaque in the windshield. A later search of the vehicle uncovered a stolen semi-automatic pistol, two police duty belts, an NYPD hat and handcuffs.
P.O.s Djafar Tsaabbast, Michael Finelli, Thomas Komoroski and Daniel DeCario, 13th Precinct, encountered a man threatening his mother with a screwdriver. “He’s gonna kill me” she screamed. The officers tried desperately to disarm the man, using Tasers to no avail. Finally they had no choice but to fire their weapons.
P.O.s Michael Renna, Mateusz Krzeminski, John Arnold and Kenneth Stallone and Sgt. Thomas Sorrentino, 106th Precinct. Officers Krzeminski and Arnold warned a man standing near the driver’s side of a car and holding a bottle of vodka. He handed the bottle to another man, and his shirt rode up, exposing a firearm in his waistband. When the other officers stopped, the man fled on foot. They ordered him to stop but he pointed his weapon at them. Three of them fired, killing him.
P.O.s Andris Bisono and Jennifer Garcia, Police Service Area 2, encountered a man who claimed to live in the housing project they were patrolling. When his identification proved otherwise, he claimed that he had a relative there. They suggested he accompany them to the relative’s apartment, and he began to fight them. Officer Bisono called for backup. The suspect gained possession of one officer’s baton and began beating them both over their head. The officers shot him dead.