A man is dead and a New York City police officer is recovering after being shot in his bullet-proof vest following a violent struggle in the middle of the night, the NYPD commissioner said Wednesday morning.
Eight uniformed officers responded to a 911 call just before 2 a.m. from a woman saying that a man was harassing her, banging on doors and breaking glass, Police Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters.
When officers fanned out at the building on Frederick Douglas Boulevard in the Harlem section of Manhattan, one officer encountered the 29-year-old suspect, naked, pointing a 9mm semiautomatic pistol at him.
A violent struggle ensued, O’Neill said. The officer yelled for help, and other officers discharged their weapons, striking the suspect several times.
The first officer was shot in the chest. The round was stopped by his bullet-proof vest, authorities said.
“This is the type of call NYPD cops respond to thousands of times a year,” O’Neill told reporters at an early morning news conference at St. Luke’s Medical Center, where the officer is recovering. “But today we were reminded again that no call is ever routine.”
O’Neill displayed the officer’s vest, showing reporters a bullet hole in the right-hand breast pocket.
“Thank God he was wearing it,” the commissioner said.
O’Neill said investigators were still determining whether the suspect fired his weapon.
The officer was also punched several times in the face, O’Neill said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio lauded the officer for his bravery.
“It’s so clear in this situation the caliber of the men and women of the NYPD, willing to go into danger at a moment’s notice to protect all of us,” he said. “Thank God our officer is safe.”
The officer has been with the NYPD for seven years. De Blasio said the officer was in “good spirits” Wednesday morning. “He is shaken, obviously, but he will be OK.”
O’Neill said the suspect was known to police, who had interacted with him previously in connection with domestic violence complaints.
The suspect was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital, authorities said.