Fifty-three uniformed members of the NYPD (46 Police Officers and seven Sergeants) were honored today by their peers at the PBA’s “Finest of the Finest” ceremony held at a luncheon at Manhattan’s Water Club.
Among the honorees were four police officers who terminated the 2017 Halloween terror attack in downtown Manhattan, two officers who, in two different instances, saved babies from certain death, and the officer who discovered an armed threat to police officers in a Facebook posting and the team that arrested the armed individual, to name just a few notable actions.
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said:
“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. 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. That is the very definition of the Finest of the Finest.”
P.O. John Flanagan and Sgt. Alberto Puente of the 46 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Save the Life of a Woman Held at Gunpoint in Confined Quarters.
The scene that confronted these officers as they responded to a report of a man with a firearm was a chilling one: a locked bedroom door and a female voice screaming behind it. Officer Flanagan kicked the door in, revealing a man holding a woman on the bed with a gun pointed at her midsection. “Drop the gun,” the officers ordered. Instead, he pointed it at them. As the woman struggled to get out of the line of fire, the officers opened fire. The victim escaped with minor injuries. The gunman was DOA.
P.O.s Redmond Murphy, Mark Fleming and Jesus Ramos of the 47 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Tactically Sound Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in a Confrontation With an Armed and Dangerous Emotionally Disturbed Person.
These officers were on a wellness check requested by the landlord whose tenant, with a history of mental illness, had not been seen or heard from in several days. What they found was a man waving a knife and holding a simulated handgun. Numerous attempts to get the man to drop his weapon and interventions arranged by the officers by friends and relatives to talk sense to the man, and several attempts to get him under control with a taser all failed. The officers had no choice but to open fire. The EDP was DOA.
P.O.s Sean Liscoe, Juan Martinez, Brian O’Neil and Douglas Yagual and Sgt. Paul O’Connor of the 45 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Intelligent, Swift and Decisive Action Taken to Apprehend a Gunman Who Had Made Credible Terroristic Threats Against Police Officers.
This case began when Officer Yagual, assigned as the 45’s assistant field intelligence officer was conducting social media surveillance of individuals known to the department. One Facebook post was especially striking. The photo showed a man standing at the rear passenger side of an occupied RMP with his back to the vehicle, displaying a black semi-automatic handgun. His words and his pose threatened violence against police officers. Officer Yagual was able to identify the man and informed his supervisor. That’s when anti-crime cops took over. Officers Liscoe and Martinez, patrolling the area where the photo had been taken, spotted the suspect committing a bicycle infraction. He attempted to flee but was apprehended by Officer O’Neill and Sgt. O’Connor. The charges against him were possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, criminal possession of a weapon and making terrorist threats.
P.O. Edward Delacruz and Sgt. Anthony Demonte of the 123 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Two Dangerous Gunmen.
Responding to a report of shots fired, these officers encountered a tense scene. Two men were 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 the gunmen, stopping the threat. The other suspect fled into the woods while these officers attended to the wounded man and called for backup. A search led to the apprehension of the other man. Among the arsenal and other contraband recovered in the case were three automatic handguns, an AR-15, a hunting knife and a bullet-proof vest.
P.O.s Ryan Nash, John Hasiotis, Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn of the 1st Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brilliant, Decisive and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers and Innocent Civilians Resulting in the Apprehension of an Accused Terrorist Who Had Already Killed Eight People.
Halloween 2017 is a day that will live in New York City infamy. On that day, an Islamic terrorist murdered eight people by driving a rented pickup truck along Hudson River Park in lower Manhattan and mowing down cyclists and runners. It was the city’s worst terrorist attack since 9/11. These officers, on an unrelated call at Stuyvesant High School in the neighborhood, were informed of an armed man outside the school. The terrorist had crashed his truck into a school bus and was standing at an intersection waving two pistols. The officers took quick action. As they converged on the suspect, officer Nash opened fire, wounding the terrorist, stopping the threat, and saving who knows how many more lives.
P.O.s Adolfo Peralta and Kevin Gleason and Sgt. Mark Amundson of the Midtown North Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers and Innocent Civilians in a Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Assailant.
While outside a food emporium monitoring a union protest demonstration, these officers were alerted by a store employee of a disorderly customer inside. Officer Gleason escorted the offender out to the sidewalk, where the hothead told the officer: “I’m going to kill you.” An attempt to handcuff the man resulted in a struggle, in which the man pulled a knife. Officer Gleason lost his balance and fell to the ground.
Still holding the knife, the suspect charged at Amundson and Peralta who drew their weapons while retreating and ordering the attacker to drop the weapon. When he continued his attack, they had no choice but to stop the threat by opening fire. The suspect was DOA.
P.O Matthew McGrath of the 13th Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Swift and Decisive Action Taken to Help Save the Life of a Two-Month-old Choking Victim.
Responding to a 911 call of an aided case, Officer McGrath found a two-month-old baby choking, barely breathing and bleeding from the mouth. Although there was a nanny attending to the baby at the time, she had not made the distress call but did call the child’s parents to alert them of the child’s condition. Officer McGrath performed back slaps and finger swipes in an attempt to dislodge a wipe that could be seen stuffed down the baby’s throat. That temporarily relieved the baby’s condition long enough to be rushed to the hospital where the child was saved by emergency surgery. The nanny was subsequently arrested for attempted murder.
P.O.s Magdalena Witkowski and Steven Pedullo of the 94 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of a Fellow Police Officer and Innocent Bystanders in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Crazed Robber.
Armed with a handgun tucked into his waistband, the perp in this incident had just robbed and assaulted two victims in a local park. These responding officers encountered the suspect and as they got out of their patrol car, he opened fire while screaming, “Kill me!” The officers took cover behind parked vehicles and returned fire. An apparent case of suicide by cop.
P.O.s Kevin Morgan and James Argila and Sgt. Jeffrey Liu of the75 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of a Fellow Police Officer and Innocent Bystanders in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Murderous Gang Member.
On anti-crime patrol in an unmarked car, these officers were surveilling a location connected to a non-fatal gang shooting and on the lookout for retaliatory violence. They followed a man who was running from the area. They caught up with him and identified themselves as police officers. At one point, the suspect turned toward the officers and pointed a handgun at them. Ignoring orders to drop his weapon, he instead opened fire and the officers returned fire. A chase followed and when they caught up with the suspect again, they found him mortally wounded.
P.O./Det. Christopher Villanueva and P.O. Frank Contaldi of the 25 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Quick-Thinking, Brave and Valiant Action Taken at the Risk of Their Own Lives to Save a Family of Four From a Burning Building.
These officers were on patrol when they saw smoke pouring from a building and heard screams for help coming from an upper floor. They moved quickly into action. Inside, the smoke was so thick that they could barely see in front of them but they made their way up a stairwell by using the staircase railing to guide them. Between the third and fourth floors, they encountered a small boy and a small girl and their parents. Each officer carried one child down the stairs as they led the family to safety. Then — at great personal risk — they reentered the building, climbed the staircase again and knocked on every door along the way to make sure all tenants were safe. Both officers had to be treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
P.O. Elias Khan and Sgt. Daniel McKeefrey of the 62 Pct. 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 Burglary Suspect.
Officer Khan and Sgt. McKeefrey were responding to a burglary-in-progress call when they were notified that the suspect was escaping through a rear bedroom window. They immediately proceeded to the rear and then chased the fugitive suspect through a backyard and over a fence. The man was armed and turned toward the officers, pointed his weapon at them and ordered the cops not to move. The officers fired killing the armed perp.
P.O.s Miguel Gonzalez, Adam Gierlachowski, Maria Figueroa and Joseph Nolasco of the 67 Pct. 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 in a Violent Confrontation With a Knife-Wielding Emotionally Disturbed Suspect.
These officers were in an apartment on an aided case when they were confronted with a bare-chested EDP armed with a large kitchen knife. The crazed man advanced on Officer Gierlachowski in a menacing manner, and the officer backed away from him and employed his taser. Although the taser struck the assailant twice, it didn’t stop the assault and the man lunged at the officer, causing both of them to fall backward. The man, still holding the knife, was on top of the cop when a fellow officer had no choice but to fire his weapon, stopping the threat. Officer Gierlachowski suffered a mild concussion and was treated and released. The assailant was DOA.
P.O.s Nordwing Veszter and Daniel Jasinski of Strategic Response Group 4 are named the Finest of the Finest for Incisive and Alert Action Resulting in the Apprehension of Two Career Criminals and the Seizure of Ten Pounds of Cocaine.
Performing a car stop because of the subject vehicle’s faulty, noisy muffler, cracked front windshield and malfunctioning break light, these officers noticed a strong smell of weed as they approached the car. Inside were a driver and a passenger, both males. These suspects were not only careless with car maintenance, but also in other ways. Loose marijuana was visible on the back seat and a black plastic bag sat conspicuously on the floor behind the driver’s seat. That bag contained about 10 pounds of tightly wrapped bricks of cocaine. The officers arrested them without further incident.
P.O.s Greg Lewza and Elizabeth Laboy of Strategic Response Group 4 are named the Finest of the Finest for Intelligent and Alert Action Leading to the Arrest of Two Criminal Police Officer Impersonators and the Recovery of Forged Law Enforcement Paraphernalia.
These officers stopped a car with Pennsylvania plates for what they suspected was a forged Federal Police plaque in the windshield. Sure enough, the driver told them that he was a Federal Agent with the U.S. Diplomatic Federal Security Service and produced a shield and an identification card. Further investigation showed that the officers’ initial suspicions were correct. He was not a Federal Agent. A later search of the vehicle uncovered a stolen semi-automatic pistol, two police duty belts, an NYPD hat, two sets of handcuffs and many other NYPD and other law enforcement articles.
P.O.s Djafar Tsaabbast, Michael Finelli, Thomas Komoroski and Daniel DeCario of the 113 Pct. 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 an Innocent Civilian From an Attack by a Screwdriver-Wielding Assailant.
Responding to reports of a woman screaming, these officers encountered a man threatening a woman with a screwdriver in a stairwell leading to a basement apartment. The woman was the man’s mother. “He’s gonna kill me, he’s gonna kill me,” she screamed. A screwdriver is as dangerous as a knife in situations like this, so the officers tried desperately to disarm the man. In the struggle, they used tasers — to no avail. Finally they had no choice but to fire their weapons, saving the mother’s life.
P.O.s Michael Renna, Mateusz Krzeminski, John Arnold and Kenneth Stallone and Sgt. Thomas Sorrentino of the 106 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in a Chase With a Gun-Pointing Fugitive.
On anti-crime patrol, Officers Krzeminski and Arnold saw a man standing near the driver’s side door and holding a bottle of vodka. They informed him that he could get a summons for public drinking and they could not allow him to drive if he had already been drinking. He said, “You’re right,” and handed the bottle to another man. But as he did this, the man’s shirt lifted up exposing the butt of a firearm in his waistband. As they prepared tactics to quietly apprehend the suspect, Sgt. Sorrentino and these other officers happened to drive by and they took part in the attempted arrest. At this point, the man fled on foot. “Police! Stop and get on the ground,” they commanded. He disregarded the commands and positioned his body with the muzzle of his firearm pointed at the pursuing officers. Three of the cops discharged their firearms, stopping the threat. The gunman was DOA.
P.O.s Daniel Velasquez and John Williams of TMTF are Named the Finest of the Finest for Quick-Thinking and Compassionate Action Taken to Save the Life of an Ailing and Unresponsive Infant.
The 11-month old girl was cradled in her father’s arms — unconscious, unresponsive and turning blue — in the Times Square subway station. These officers took quick action. After calling for an ambulance, they immediately began administering CPR. Diagnosing her illness as a febrile seizure, they placed ice packs on her chest and legs to bring the fever down. The infant suddenly regained consciousness and began to cry. By the time the child was on her way to Bellevue Hospital with her parents, the baby was conscious and alert.
P.O.s Giselle Batista, Michael Daly and Jelfri Henriquez of Transit District 12 are named the Finest of the Finest for Quick-Thinking and Extremely Effective Action Taken to Apprehend an Attempted Murderer and Save the Life of His Pregnant Victim.
In a team effort, these officers responded to a report of a woman stabbed on a number 2 subway train. They located the suspect, who was being held in the street by an angry mob, and apprehended him on an attempted murder charge. Proceeding to the elevated subway platform, they rendered aid to the pregnant victim by staunching the blood flow from a severed neck artery until relieved by EMS. Then they helped gather intelligence leading to the recovery of the knife used in the stabbing.
P.O.s Andris Bisono and Jennifer Garcia of PSA-2 are 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 While Being Injured in a Struggle With a Baton-Wielding Assailant.
In their descent down the stairwells on an interior patrol in a housing complex, these officers smelled a burning odor coming from a hallway. They encountered a man who claimed to live in the building. When his identification proved otherwise, he claimed that he had a relative there. They suggested he accompany them to the relative’s apartment, and that’s when the trouble started. He refused and assumed a fighting stance. Officer Bisono asked for back-up, then employed his baton. A struggle ensued, and the suspect gained possession of one of the officer's baton and began beating the cops over their heads, inflicting severe injuries. They had no choice but to defend themselves with their weapons and shot their attacker dead.