Voice of America

November 2, 2017

New York Cop Hailed as 'Humble Hero' for Stopping Attacker

By Reuters

Students walk past police line tape on their way to school a day after a man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path alongside the Hudson River in New York City, New York, Nov. 1, 2017.

NEW YORK —The young police officer who confronted and shot the truck attacker who killed eight people on a New York City bike path on Tuesday was being hailed as a hero for quick action that ended the carnage.

Officer Ryan Nash, 28, was at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon with his partner John Hasiotis responding to a call that a student was threatening to kill himself when people told them of the pandemonium a short distance away.

The officers ran from the school and Nash spotted the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, shouting and brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun. Nash immediately opened fire, hitting Saipov in the abdomen and ending the attack.

"He thinks what he did was not an act of heroism. He thinks it's why he joined the police department," New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill told reporters, referring to Nash. "I don't think we could have found a more humble human being."

Nash, on the NYPD for five years, is assigned to the First Precinct in Lower Manhattan. His commander, Deputy Inspector Mark Iocco, said on Wednesday that he had spoken with Nash.

"He's doing well under the circumstances," Iocco wrote on Twitter. "Thank you for all the thoughtful comments."

Speaking at the news conference alongside O'Neill and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Nash deserved all the accolades he was receiving.

"He was very humble about what he did, but what he did was extraordinary and gave people such faith and such appreciation in our police force," de Blasio said. "He thought this was all in a day's work and what a cop does to protect other people."

Patrick J. Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Nash was first at the scene. He said Hasiotis pinpointed witnesses and Officers Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn collected the gunman's weapons and with Hasiotis secured the area.

"While we mourn the terrible loss of life and the injuries to innocent people we are proud of and grateful for the quick action of a team of police officers who responded to cries for help and took charge of a chaotic and dangerous situation."

In short, when confronted by protest from someone even higher in the social hierarchy, these powerful white men whined, called for boycotts, and retreated, however briefly, to their safe spaces. As with the Blue Lives Matter counterprotest movement, the instinctual response to any assertion of a sub-American identity is one of irritation, scorn, and outright fear.

Over time, as with MLK's legacy, some social movements eventually are vindicated. The country hears grievances. Controversy ensues. Clashes occur. The culture changes. Controversy fades. Springsteen's "American Skin" took on a sad new relevance, in 2012, after the killing of Trayvon Martin by a self-appointed neighborhood watchmen. He's been playing the song off and on ever since, and, as police shootings of unarmed minorities grab headlines, no one is offended by it anymore.

The lesson to would-be protesters is double-edged: Just because they don't like you doesn't mean you're wrong — but neither does it mean, in every case, that anything will change.