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Updated: March 26, 2024, 9:58 AM

NYPD cop, 31, fatally shot by career criminal during Queens traffic stop ID’d as husband, dad of young child

By Joe Marino , Larry Celona , Tina Moore and David Propper

A 31-year-old NYPD cop was shot and killed by a career criminal during a traffic stop in Queens on Monday evening in a “senseless act of violence,” officials and law enforcement sources said.

Officer Jonathan Diller, a married father of a 1-year-old boy, was shot in the stomach after police tried to remove the suspect, identified by sources as 34-year-old Guy Rivera, from the passenger seat of the car near 19-19 Mott Ave. in Far Rockaway, according to the NYPD and sources.

Diller, who had three years on the force, fell to the ground and screamed that he had been “hit” after the suspect opened fire, according to witness Deon Peters.

“He was moving, he was saying, ‘I’m hit, I’m hit!’ Giving location and all that,” Peters said. “Like he was crying, like he was really crying.”

Diller was rushed in critical condition to Jamaica Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

“Tonight this city lost a hero, a wife lost her husband, and a young child lost their father,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban wrote on X. “We struggle to find the words to express the tragedy of losing one of our own. The work that Police Officer Jonathan Diller did each day to make this city a safer place will NEVER be forgotten.

“Our prayers are with his family, loved ones, and brothers and sisters in blue.”

The tragic shooting unfolded around 5:50 p.m. after cops approached the vehicle that was stopped in front of a bus stop.

Rivera “was asked to leave the car, he was given a lawful order numerous times to step out of the car, he refused,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said during a press briefing.

“And when the officer took him out of the car, instead of stepping out of the car, he shot our officer,” said Kenny.

The bullet hit Diller under his police vest, authorities said.

Even after Diller was shot, the Long Island resident heroically got the gun away from the shooter when the weapon fell to the ground, according to Kenny.

Diller’s partner returned gunfire and struck Rivera, who has 21 prior arrests, in the back, sources said.

The suspect was also taken to Jamaica Hospital, where police said he was in stable condition.

“We lost Jonathan tonight,” Mayor Eric Adams said during the solemn press conference at Jamaica Hospital.

“I can’t not say it any clearer: It is the good guys against the bad guys and these bad guys are violent,” he added, calling the fatal shooting a “senseless act of violence.”

Both Rivera and the driver of the car, identified by sources as 41-year-old Lindy Jones, had criminal backgrounds, according to records and sources.

Rivera was last released from a New York prison in 2021 after serving five years behind bars for criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to state records. His parole in that case ended last year.

The accused shooter also served another stint in prison starting in 2011 over a first-degree assault charge before he was released in 2014, records show.

Meanwhile, officials said Monday night Jones was arrested on gun charges last April, but was out on the street. Records show he was out on $75,000 bail on that case and due back in court on Monday.

He was arrested in the same police precinct where the shooting took place on April 17, 2023, after he allegedly was found with a loaded firearm, according to sources.

He was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and other related charges, sources said.

“This is what you call not a crime problem, but a recidivist problem,” Adams said of the April 2023 arrest of Jones. “Same bad people doing bad things to good people.”

Jones, who has 14 prior arrests, was convicted of attempted murder and robbery in 2003, according to records. He served 10 years in prison and was released in 2013.

No charges were announced against either Rivera or Jones late Monday.

Kenny said the pair both have associations with people in Queens, but the connection between the two men was still being probed.  

Following the shooting, police were rushing in from every direction, said Peters, the witness.

“Never saw something like that before in my life,” he said. “Hopefully don’t see it again.”

PBA president Patrick Hendry hailed Diller as a hero and slammed the ongoing violence against police officers on city streets.

“Our hero police officer confronted this dangerous individual knowing that he was putting himself at risk, knowing that he had a family waiting for him at home,” Hendry said. “But he did it to protect the people of this city and we need every single New Yorker to be with this family.”

Diller was a member of patrol borough Queens south’s community response team.

“These attacks on New York City police officers have to end right now,” the union chief also said. “We have a family upstairs right now that’s devastated. We have police officers in this hallway who have lost a brother. It has to end now.”