During an early-morning press conference, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea described a “chaotic” scene that had unfolded two hours earlier, which ended with a police officer stabbed in the neck and two other officers shot in a violent ambush and shootout in Brooklyn.
“What we know at this time is that it appears to be a completely cowardly, despicable, unprovoked attack on a defenseless police officer, and thank God we’re not planning a funeral right now,” Shea told reporters.
“At approximately quarter till midnight, without warning, video surveillance shows a male walk up to the officers casually, take out a knife, and stab one of the officers in the neck,” he said. “That officer was stabbed in the left side of his neck, thank God, missing an artery, and is recovering here in stable condition at the hospital.”
As that scene unfolded, two police officers stationed a block or two away heard shots being fired and responded to the scene of the stabbing. “We believe that when they got there they saw the perpetrator with a gun in his hand, which we believe belonged to one of the officers,” Shea said.
Investigators at the scene recovered 22 shell casings “from a number of officers,” Shea said.
The commissioner said that body cams from the officers are being reviewed to get a better understanding of how the attack unfolded.
The injured officers are all in stable condition and expected to recover. The attacker was shot multiple times and is in critical condition.
The ambush comes in the wake of several other attacks on New York Police officers in recent days, as violent protests have rocked New York and other cities across the country: an officer was bashed in the head by a fire extinguisher in Harold Square; another was mowed down by a car in the Bronx; three people jumped a police officer, also in the Bronx.
Patrick Lynch, the head of the police union, was visibly angry. “Are we surprised we’re here in the hospital again?” he asked. “Did we doubt, because of the rhetoric we’re hearing, the anti-police rhetoric that’s storming our streets, are we surprised that we got this call?”
“We said it’s going to happen,” he exclaimed. “We said it has to stop. And it does. All levels have to say it’s going to end today and then allow us to go out and do it.
“We can’t allow the asinine laws that have passed where we put criminals in and they let them out,” Lynch said, referring to the state’s no-bail law. “That’s why things like this happen. It may not be this situation, but it feeds the atmosphere.”
“It has to stop, all levels have to say it, and allow us to do it,” he concluded.
“The men and women of this police department should not have to stand anymore — not one more — attack,” said Shea. “And it’s going to take all leaders, elected officials, clergy, as I said many times, community leaders, grassroots people, people that live and work in these communities. I think we are all fed up with what we’re seeing on many levels. This situation has to stop and people need to speak and words matter. I shouldn’t be at the hospital having the same discussion again.”
“It’s been a long month for all of us,” Shea added.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the city’s police force but failed to condemn the violent rhetoric that may have contributed to the attack.
“Thank god all our officers will recover,” de Blasio said. “It’s another example of what it means every day for the men and women of the NYPD to protect all of us. To protect all our communities no matter what is happening. The bravery that they show constantly, and thank God, that this very, very challenging situation… our officers came through safely. ”
“And every—look, this is a moment in our history,” he added. “We gotta support each other. No matter what else is happening around us we’ve gotta be there for each other. Our officers protect us. We have to respect, support, protect them. We gotta find a way to move forward no matter how much is thrown at us — the coronavirus and everything else. We have to find a way to come together and move forward.”
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