Contact: Albert O'Leary
PBA Communications Director
212-298-9190

or Joseph Mancini
212-298-9150

June 16, 2016




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POLICE OFFICERS HONOR
THEIR OWN FOR DEEDS OF HEROISM

Randolph Holder, who gave his life to protect the citizens of his adopted city from gun violence last year, led the list of 49 uniformed members of the NYPD who were honored today (June 16) at a luncheon ceremony hosted by the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Officer Holder, whose father and grandfather were police officers in his native Guyana and who joined the NYPD because it was, in his words, “the best police department in the world,” was fatally shot in the forehead last Oct. 20 by a PCP-addicted ex-con and career criminal who was free from prison because the courts put him in a drug treatment program. Officer Holder was posthumously promoted to Detective First Grade.  His award today was accepted by his father, also named Randolph Holder.

The other officers honored today at the traditional “Finest of the Finest” ceremony at Manhattan’s Water Club are being recognized for acts of bravery in confronting dangerous criminals and valor in rescuing New Yorkers in life-threatening predicaments.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said: “What makes these awards so special to those who receive them is that they are judged ‘the finest of the finest’ by their colleagues, who are best qualified to recognize true acts of courage. We are saddened that Officer Holder didn’t live to accept his award but take some comfort in knowing that his family may gain some solace from this day.”

DEEDS FOR WHICH THESE HONORS WERE AWARDED


Bronx

Police Officers Alexis Diaz and Antonio Rodriguez of the 47 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for alert and tactically sound action taken to effect the arrest of a serial bank robber.

Following up on a radio run about the robbery of a Chase bank near White Plains Road, these officers decided to canvass the area instead of responding to the scene, where other officers were covering. They made the right decision. They soon spotted a man walking east on 233rd Street who fit the robber’s description. Without incident, they collared the man, who was then positively identified not only as the robber of this bank but also of four other banks in the community.


Police Officer Kelvyn Vargas of the 44 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for brave, valiant and tactically brilliant action taken to apprehend an armed and dangerous gunman.

This officer was on foot patrol on one of the most crime-ridden streets in the 44 Precinct when he heard and observed a man firing six rounds at another man.  Instantly and courageously, he cut off the perp’s escape route, drew his firearm and gave the usual vocal commands. What followed was a long, winding and intense foot chase in which the officer employed excellent tactics while protecting himself and the public from harm, keeping up with the suspect and keeping backup officers informed. He traced the suspect to an open garbage chute and, maintaining excellent firearms control, finally got the shooter to surrender without further incident. An exceptional job by a brilliantly talented officer just six months out of the academy.


Police Officer Frederick Winter of the 48 Pct., who is the PBA’s Bronx Financial Secretary, is named the Finest of the Finest for Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life and the Life of a Fellow Police Officer in Hand-to-Hand Combat With a Perpetrator Wrestling for Control of the Officer’s Firearm.

Officer Winter was driving his sergeant and two other officers when they observed a car crash in which one driver fled the scene. The suspect then crashed into another car and when the officers caught up to him, he sped off again, almost hitting two of the officers. In the car-chase that followed, the suspect caused more destruction, striking a pedestrian so hard that the victim’s body flew into the air. Officer Winter and the sergeant continued the chase while the other officers attended to the victim. The maniac driver then swerved onto the sidewalk, driving that way until he ran into a wall. When he got out of the car and the officers tried to apprehend him, the suspect violently resisted, struggling with both officers and trying to grab both of their service weapons. He pulled on Officer Winter’s gunbelt with both hands and tore it in half, thus gaining control of the firearm. Officer Winter struggled for the weapon with the perp, who got off one round, hitting no one. The perp was trying to aim the weapon at the sergeant but Officer Winter prevented him from firing, regained control of the weapon and subdued the suspect. As it turned out, the suspect had stolen the car.

 

Brooklyn North

Police Officer Tony Cuoco of the 75 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for brave and valiant action taken to defend his life and the life of a fellow Police Officer in an exchange of gunfire with a dangerous shooter.

Responding to a radio transmission of a man with a gun, this officer and his sergeant spotted a person who fit the description. As they approached on foot, the man fled, with a black firearm clearly visible in his right hand. He pointed the weapon at the pursuing officers. He stumbled, fell to the ground, but continued to aim at the officers. The sergeant fired a Taser and the perp responded with four live rounds, which fortunately missed. Officer Cuoco returned fire and the chase resumed. Officer Cuoco fired twice more, and this time his bullets found their mark. The gunman was wounded, collared and hospitalized.


Police Officers Ryan Giuffre, Dennis O’Hara and Sgt. James Weibert of the 83 Pct.; Police Officer Trevor White of the 73 Pct.; and Police Officers Wanda Crooks and Alemtsehay Clarke of the 81 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 in an exchange of gunfire with a dangerous assailant.

The perp in this case was certainly trigger-happy. First, he shoots a man whose car he was trying to steal items from. Then, when Officer White and Sergeant Weibert try to stop him he shoots at their RMP, with Officer White returning fire. Then, when Officers Giuffre and O’Hara arrive at the location and see him running he fires first and exchanges gunfire with them. Finally, when Officers Crooks and Clarke enter the scene, he fires at them and gets wounded in return. He was apprehended without further incident. 

 

Brooklyn South

Police Officers Patrick Alfano and Peter Bellina of the 70 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Alert and Quick-Thinking Action Taken to Save the Life of an Off-Duty Police Officer Who Had Suffered a Deep Laceration to His Forearm.

While on Patrol, these officers were flagged down by Patricia Green, the wife of Police Officer Clinton Green. She urgently informed him that her husband, while off duty, was severely lacerated by flying glass from a champagne bottle that exploded while he was trying to open it, and his left forearm was bleeding profusely, to the point where he might bleed out. They quickly sprang into action. They called for an ambulance and, while waiting for its arrival, they applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, then got him swiftly to the hospital for life-saving medical attention. Police Officer Green, assigned to Critical Response in Manhattan North, is with us today. He remains on limited duty because he hasn’t yet recovered full use of his arm but he’s otherwise healthy and lucky to be alive, thanks to the swift actions of these officers.


Police Officer Giovanni Fini of the 75 Pct. and Police Officer Christopher Nieves of the 76 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 dangerous shooter.

For these two officers, this incident started out as a stop for a violation of the open container law and ended up as a life-threatening shoot-out. As they approached the suspect, he fled, fell momentarily to the ground, pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired at least one round at Officer Fini, who took cover and then fired back. The chase and the gunplay continued, with both officers being shot at and both returning fire. Both officers suffered sprains and contusions in the battle and were treated and released at the hospital as investigators searched the building that the suspect fled into.

 

Manhattan North

Police Officer Christopher Rafferty of the 25 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for brave and valiant action taken while off duty and while being injured in defending himself from an attempted robber who tried to gain control of the officer’s off-duty weapon. 

While he was walking to his fiancee’s home from the train station in Patchogue, this off-duty officer was attacked from behind by a thief trying to steal his backpack. During the struggle that followed, Officer Rafferty identified himself as a Police Officer and the perp noticed the off-duty firearm holstered on the officer’s right side. There was a violent struggle for control of the gun. During the struggle, two rounds were fired. At one point, the perp got control of the weapon and struck the officer several times in the head with it. Officer Rafferty ultimately was able to restrain the perp and safeguard his weapon. With the aid of an off-duty Ocean Beach Police Sergeant and the arrival of Suffolk county officers, the episode ended with the perp’s arrest.


Police Officers Angel Torres and Brian Santiago of the 19th Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and tactically proficient action taken to defend their own lives and the life of a civilian in a confrontation with a knife-waving emotionally disturbed person.

These officers arrived at the scene of a 10-52 family dispute where other officers were holding at bay an emotionally disturbed person who was threatening them and his own mother with a six-inch knife. The officers, with weapons drawn, ordered him to drop the blade, and he refused to comply. The situation was complicated by the fact that the mother, in grave danger herself from her son’s threats, often stepped between her son and the officers and refused pleas for her to return to her apartment. When a sergeant’s use of a Taser failed to stop the threat, the officers were compelled to fire, wounding the EDP. “Lucky you guys caught me,” he told them later, “because I was going to kill somebody today.”

 

Manhattan South

Police Officer Geraldo Casaigne of the Midtown South Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and decisive action taken to defend a fellow Police Officer from death or physical harm in a confrontation with a hammer-wielding assailant and Police Officer Lauren O’Rourke of the Midtown South Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and decisive action taken to defend her life and to apprehend a hammer-wielding assailant.

The suspect was wanted for several assaults with a hammer.  These officers spotted him in Midtown Manhattan, with his right hand suspiciously in his pocket. Officer O’Rourke instructed him to take that hand out of his pocket and he did – and produced the hammer. With it, he began striking the officer about the upper back and shoulder. Officer Casaigne acted swiftly to save his partner, firing four shots, wounding the assailant and stopping the threat. Officer O’Rourke was treated and released for her injuries.


Police Officers Gerard Collins and William Sena of the Midtown South Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely alert and intelligent actions leading to the apprehension of a serial bank-robber.

The suspect in this incident had already committed four bank robberies on that day and these officers had been part of a team canvassing the area in search of him during their tour of duty.  But they didn’t see him until shortly after they went off duty and were sitting in Officer Sena’s personal vehicle. Officer Collins followed the suspect on foot, watched him enter another bank and informed Officer Sena by cell phone. They called for backup. The suspect left the latest bank without robbing it and got into a waiting vehicle. The pursuit was joined by other units and, ultimately, the suspect was collared. He not only confessed to the day’s holdups but he was indentified and charged with 11 other bank robberies. Thanks to the alert and intelligent work of these officers, an extensive robbery pattern was ended.


Police Officers Spencer Garrett, Michael Jezycki and John McDevitt of the 7th Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely alert and intelligent actions taken to apprehend major drug dealers and leading to the confiscation of drugs and firearms.

These officers observed two known drug dealers engaged in a hand-to-hand narcotics transaction while seated in a parked rental car. The officers moved in. The suspects were removed from the vehicle and found to be in possession of quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Execution of a search warrant on the vehicle resulted in the discovery of more cocaine. A subsequent investigation led to a search warrant on a storage space rented by one of the suspects. That search led to the discovery of 26 firearms, including three assault rifles. Lots of guns and drugs are now off the street because of the alertness of these three officers.

 

Lower Manhattan/Staten Island

Police Officers Thomas Edwards and John Romani of the 120 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for outstanding police work in the apprehension of a known perpetrator leading to the confiscation of a semi-automatic handgun.

Assigned to the 120’s anti-crime team, these officers responded to a shots-fired report. Their preliminary investigation led them to the home of a known perpetrator and they staked out the location. When they saw him get into his vehicle, they attempted a car-stop but the suspect tried to run back to his residence. They quickly apprehended him and recovered a .380 semi-automatic handgun. Further investigation showed that the gun matched the rounds fired in the initial shots-fired incident.


Police Officers Gregory Fortunato and Richard Velez of the 123 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and valiant action taken in risking their own lives to rescue two people from a burning building.

On patrol in the precinct’s conditions unit, these officers saw that a single-family home in the neighborhood was in flames. After notifying the fire department, they heard screams coming from inside the home. They decided to take action and entered the building. They encountered heavy smoke and poor visibility and had to crawl on the floor to make their way to the screams. They reached a female, who was pulled to safety, and who had told them that her husband was still in danger. They found him at the rear of the home trying to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose. At first, he resisted their efforts to get him out safely, but he finally relented and emerged without injury. The officers were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

 

Queens North

Police Officers Cesar Dorado, Peter Repetti and Brian Brandt and Sgt. Eric Panni of the 109 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 bystanders in a confrontation with an emotionally disturbed person attacking them with a box-cutter.

The call came from New York Hospital, Queens, a man who had been a patient there earlier returned and threatened a security guard with a knife, demanding syringes. He was no longer there when these cops arrived but they were shown a video of the incident and given the man’s address. And there they found him in front of his building. He refused to go quietly, however, and lunged at Sergeant Panni and Officer Dorado with a box-cutter. After the man refused to obey several commands to drop the weapon, Officer Dorado was compelled to end the threat with two bullets. The man was D.O.A.

 

Queens South

Police Officers Christopher Carlino, Matthew Carson and Michael Wigdzinski of the 101 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave, quick-thinking and valiant action taken to save two people from drowning in the waters off Far Rockaway.

A jet-ski with two men on it ran out of gas and the occupants were thrown into the choppy waters of a riptide some 70 yards offshore. These officers lost no time in shedding their gunbelts and other parts of their uniforms to swim out into the dangerous current toward the men, one of whom was clinging to the jet-ski and the other with his head barely above water. But these officers were strong swimmers and managed to pull both victims safely to shore.


Police Officers Daniel Gasperetti  and John Quinn of the 103 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 an exchange of gunfire with a dangerous criminal.

The perp in this incident had just ended a dispute in a local bar by shooting up the place. These officers, responding to the shots-fired report, were told by witnesses that the gunman was walking up the street. They spotted him, with the gun still in his hand, and parked their RMP. The officers shouted, “gun, gun,” and gave chase. Ignoring orders to drop the weapon, the perp fired two shots at them from over his left shoulder. He then turned toward the officers and made what was to be his last stand. The cops returned fire and the gunman was D.O.A.

 

Transit

Police Officer Filippo Gugliara of Transit District 34 is named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and valiant action taken while being injured in a struggle with a knife-wielding perpetrator.

A street dispute and an assault complaint led this officer to try to arrest a man waving a knife with a five-inch blade. The suspect made it obvious that he was resisting arrest when he stabbed the officer on the right shoulder, drawing blood. In response, the officer got off two rounds from his Glock. Officer Gugliara was hospitalized because of his injuries. The perp was D.O.A. at the scene.


Police Officer Mehbubur Rehaman of Transit Headquarters is named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and valiant action taken while off duty to defend his life in a confrontation with an armed robber.

This officer had just finished his shift at about 9:40 pm and went to meet a man he thought was selling a used car on Craig’s list. When he met the supposed seller, the man told him to walk down an alley toward a garage. Instead, another man pulled into the alley driving a car and emerged holding a gun. It was a stickup. The gunman took the officer’s wallet and then pulled his shield from the cop’s pocket. Shocked, he dropped the badge and, still armed, began to flee. During the chase, Officer Rehaman got off several shots from his 9-millimeter and stopped the threat. The gunman was D.O.A.


Police Officers Patrick Fienga and Naquon Gurley of Transit District 30 are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and valiant action taken at the risk of their own lives to rescue five people from a burning building.

They’re police officers not firefighters but their mission is to serve and protect, so when these officers saw a burning house in Brooklyn, they radioed for the fire department and went to work. They grabbed fire extinguishers from their R.M.P. and forced their way inside the flaming residence. Using the extinguishers to make their way through the flames, they safely evacuated all five residents.

 

Housing

Police Officers Diara Cruz and Patrick Espeut of Public Service Area 7 are named the Finest of the Finest for extremely brave and valiant action taken while being wounded to defend their lives and the lives of fellow Police Officers in a confrontation with a desperate criminal. And Police Officers Antonio Desucre, and Phillip Pena of Public Service Area 7 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 confrontation with a desperate criminal

This was a really dangerous situation. These officers, on vertical patrol, encountered two men, who happened to have been involved in a marijuana transaction, although the cops didn’t know it at the time. They followed the suspects to an apartment where one of them was supposed to produce identification, but, before they got there one suspect pulled a gun and started shooting. Officer Espeut was hit in the face and nose and officer Cruz in the abdomen, although at first she didn’t realize it. The other officers aided the wounded and radioed for assistance before following one suspect and trying to apprehend him in his apartment. The perp then picked up a shotgun and turned it on himself. He was D.O.A.


Police Officer Omar Wallace of Public Service Area 5 is 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 in an exchange of gunfire with a remorseless cop-killer

 
Shots fired and a bicycle robbery brought this officer and fellow Officer Randolph Holder to the F.D.R. promenade at about East 1111th Street. No sooner had they got there when the armed, gang-member bike thief opened fire, mortally wounding Officer Holder. The gunman fired shots at Officer Wallace as well but Wallace returned fire, wounding the shooter in the leg. Officer Wallace turned his attention to his fallen brother in a vain attempt to save his life. The perp was apprehended by other officers.


Police Officer Randolph holder of Public Service Area 5 is named the Finest of the Finest in that he sacrificed his life to serve and protect the people of New York and to get guns off the city’s streets.

Randolph Holder, born in Georgetown, Guyana, always wanted to be a police officer in the NYPD because he considered it to be – in his words – “the greatest police department in the world.” Today we honor him posthumously. Both his father and his grandfather were police officers in his native land and Randolph wanted to follow in their footsteps, and, as he said, “become a role model.” He gave, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “the last full measure of devotion” to fulfill that role.  A role model, yes.  But a hero most of all.

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