January 13, 2005
"Finest of the Finest" awards
The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) today (Thursday, Jan. 13) honored 37 New York City police officers and two sergeants for acts of heroism and humanitarianism. They were cited at the “Finest of the Finest” luncheon at Manhattan’s Water Club on the banks of the East River.
The honorees ranged from the police officer who donated a kidney to save the life of a perfect stranger to the rookie who risked her life to save innocent civilians from a crazed man on a mid-day stabbing spree in Greeley Park. The incidents commemorated feats of valor, compassion and resourcefulness, including dangerous shootouts and daredevil rescues. There were life-saving actions of a more delicate nature – like the incident involving cops who saved the life of a boy with a piece of a Lego toy stuck in his throat.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch and other members of the union’s executive board hosted the bi-annual event. The officers – accompanied by their friends and family – were treated to a cocktail party and lunch and presented with plaques commemorating their deeds.
“New York City police officers perform extraordinary acts every day. We call the officers honored here today the ‘Finest of the Finest,’” said Lynch. “And that’s because, of all the awards our officers get, we value these the most because the recipients are selected by other police officers – by their peers – which makes it all that much more special.”
Incidents for Which the Officers Were Honored
Police Officers William Kivlehen, John Baumeister and Sean O’Connell of PBS/ACU are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Resourceful Action Taken to Defend Their Lives and the Lives of Fellow Police Officers in a Confrontation With an Armed and Dangerous Suspect.
- A routine traffic stop turned into a high-speed auto chase into Yonkers for these anti-crime cops, and that turned into an armed confrontation in a dangerous location – a parking garage. Once the suspect pointed his gun at the officers, however, it was all over. The perp took two bullets and a well-deserved trip to the prison hospital.
Police Officers Stephen Zupic, Joseph Picciotta and Joel Rios of the 41 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 an Exchange of Gunfire with a Desperate Criminal.
- Responding to a male-shot radio run, these officers encountered the shooter, who was still armed. The officers gave the man several warnings to drop his weapon but instead he fired two shots at them. The cops answered with a volley of their own, hitting the suspect three times, ending the confrontation.
Police Officers Joseph A. Dennis and Charles L. Hollis and of the 23 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Resourceful Action Taken to Apprehend an Armed and Dangerous Homicide Suspect.
- Responding to a report of two males shot, these officers not only found the victims – one of them fatally wounded – but also were able to subdue the murderer as he tried to flee the location.
Police Officers Brandon Pedrosa and Hector Natal of the 33 Pct. 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 in an Exchange of Gunfire With a Dangerous Criminal.
- These officers, responding to a report of a man with a gun, found just that at a car stop. Not only did the man have a gun but he fired it at the officers, who returned fire, wounding the suspect and disarming and apprehending him.
Police Officer Maribeth Diaz of the Midtown South Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Quick-Thinking Action Taken to Defend Her Life and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders and to Apprehend a Knife-Wielding Emotionally Disturbed Person Who Had Stabbed Three People in a Busy Public Square.
- This incident made headlines. An emotionally disturbed person started stabbing people with a carving knife in the middle of the afternoon in a crowded Greeley Square Park on West 33rd Street in the middle of the afternoon. Luckily, Officer Diaz, a rookie at the time, was on the scene. The assailant came right at her. She repeatedly warned him to drop the blade. He didn’t. She shot him and saw to it that no one else was stabbed in Greeley Park that day.
Police Officer Marie Frawley of the Legal Bureau is named the Finest of the Finest for and Extremely Brave and Humanitarian Deed Performed at Great Self-Sacrifice in Donating Her Kidney to a Woman She Did Not Know, Thereby Saving the Woman’s Life.
- The act of heroism Police Officer Frawley is responsible for is literally a blood-and-guts story. Officer Frawley had the guts to donate one of her kidneys to a perfect stranger – a 37-year-old nurse and diabetic who needed the organ to survive. Officer Frawley learned about the transplant need in her church newsletter and had a sixth sense that she would be a match. She was, so she gave the nurse, Janemarie Edmonson, the gift of life.
Police Officers Daniel F. Ulsaner and Ashley Ashton of the 120 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant and Resourceful Action Taken to Disarm a Dangerous and Trigger-Happy Suspect Without Firing Their Own Weapons.
- These officers were on routine patrol when they saw a man firing several rounds from a firearm. They got out of their car in an attempt to stop the shooter, and when he fled they chased him on foot, tackled and subdued him. The perp’s weapon went off in the struggle but no one was hurt.
Police Officers Joselito Chaparro and Russell L. John of the 81 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken at Great Risk to Their Own Lives to Rescue Four Children From a Burning Building.
- After being flagged down by a man who told them of a nearby fire, these officers got to the burning building only to find four children screaming and crying with smoke behind them in a first-floor apartment, trapped behind window gates. The officers went quickly to work. They kicked in the front door and, braving smoke and flames, rescued all four children and one adult.
Police Officers David S. Pralgo and Kevin P. Phelan of the 75 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 and Exchange of Gunfire With Armed Robbers.
- These officers ran into the robbery-in-progress at a car wash. One of the perps started shooting at them and they returned fire, hitting the shooter many times. Quick-thinking action by these officers prevented innocent lives from being lost, ended up with the shooter being DOA at the hospital, and led to the arrests of three other suspects.
Police Officers Brian D. Brown and Richard Banks of the 70 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant, Quick-Thinking and Resourceful Action Taken to Safeguard the Lives of Victims and Bystanders in the Aftermath of a Helicopter Crash on the Roof of a Two-Story Residential Building.
- This incident began when an out-of-control Channel-2-News helicopter crashed onto the roof of a two-story brick building in Brooklyn. When these officers got to the scene, the aircraft was lying on its side on the roof with its motor still running. They worked quickly, evacuating building residents and getting the pilot and passengers safely out of the helicopter.
Police Officers William Schub, William Klein, Brendan Galligan, Francis Vitale and Michael Egan of the Aviation Unit are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave, Valiant, Resourceful and Expert Action Taken Under Dangerous Conditions to Rescue Victims Stranded at Sea After Their Boat Sank.
- In this air-sea rescue, these officers responded by chopper to a Coast Guard report of a boat sinking in the Atlantic Ocean, 23 miles southeast of Rockaway. After an expert search, they located three victims floating in the water, their sport fisherman having already sunk. Deploying a raft, a hoist and a scuba team, these officers got all victims out of the waves and into the helicopter to safety.
Police Officer Margaret Zaffarese of the 115 Pct. is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend Her Life in a Struggle and an Exchange of Gunfire With a Trio of Burglars.
- Officer Zaffarese got to her home in Nassau County late one night only to find three men burglarizing her place. They wore ski masks and were armed. She struggled with the burglars, getting off a couple of shots from her off-duty weapon, wounding one of the burglars in the abdomen. They fled the scene but were soon apprehended by Nassau County cops.
Police Officers Gilbert Altreche, Mark J. Cooper and Gregory S. Damato of the 115 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Quick-Thinking Action Taken While Off Duty to Apprehend Two Suspects for Robbery and Impersonation of a Police Officer.
- Officer Altreche was off duty and on foot when he saw two men get out of a car and approach a third man. One of the men from the car pulled out a phony police shield, threw the victim against a wall and relieved him of his wallet. After phoning the 115 Precinct for backup, Officer Altreche was joined by Officers Cooper and D’Amato were quickly able to apprehend the robbers without anyone getting hurt.
Police Officers Michael Hance and Michael Ward of the 105 Pct. are named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Quick-Thinking, Heroic and Professional Action Taken to Save the Life of a 13-Month-Old Boy Who Had Been Choking to Death Because of an Obstruction in His Windpipe.
- “Please help us. The baby is dying.” That’s what these officers heard when they got to the location after responding to a report of a child choking. Sure enough, the 13-month-old boy had swallowed a large block from a Lego toy and showed no signs of life. He was motionless, lying face down, turning blue and bleeding from the mouth. The officers quickly gave the child two controlled blows to the back, partially dislodging the obstruction. One of them then stuck his hand inside the child’s mouth and broke off part of the block, allowing the boy to breathe more freely. Then they got him to the hospital where the obstruction was completely removed, saving the boy’s life.
Police Officer Sean Abrams, Highway #3 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken in an Exchange of Gunfire With Two Suspects, Leading to Their Apprehension.
- Officer Abrams, working solo in a vehicle that looked a yellow cab, tried to stop a car for speeding but the car sped off and there was a high-speed chase. The perps’ car broke down and then they fled on foot, with Officer Abrams behind them every step of the way, hopping fences and running through back yards. At one point, one of the perps fired a shot at him. The officer called in his location, a perimeter was set up and, thanks to this cop’s fine work, both suspects were soon apprehended.
Police Officer Heriberto Crespo and Sgt. Daniel Munzo of the Transit Bronx Task Force 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 Suspect.
- This police officer and his sergeant were responding to a report of a man with a gun when they located two suspects. They got into a struggle with the armed suspect, who fired at them, missing. They returned fire. The suspect eluded capture but the cops and innocent bystanders escaped without injury.
Police Officer Marko Mibailovich of Transit District #2 is named the Finest of the Finest for Extremely Brave and Valiant Action Taken to Defend His Life, the Life of a Fellow Police Officer and the Lives of Innocent Bystanders in a Confrontation With an Armed Fugitive.
- This officer was able to capture a suspect who had pistol-whipped and robbed a man, then tried to escape by running into the subway and onto the tracks. After a foot chase, the armed suspect turned on the officer and charged at him, screaming, “Shoot me. Shoot me.” The cop had no choice. Shot him dead. End of story.
Police Officers John McSweeney and Sgt. Patrick Devlin of PSA #9 and Police Officers Wayne Kendall and William Scheffler of the 114 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 an Exchange of Gunfire With a Dangerous Felon.
- Responding to a report of a man with a gun, these officers chased the suspect, in cars and on foot. When he began firing shots at them, they returned fire. One of their bullets found its mark, wounding the gunman in the leg, causing him to drop his weapon and be taken into custody.