Officer killed in line of duty honored in Massapequa Park

BSO Police Officer David Brown views the memorial BSO Police Officer David Brown views the memorial stone as the Nassau County Police Department holds a ceremony in Massapequa Park in honor of Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf. (Nov. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Officials unveiled a memorial in Massapequa Park Saturday to honor Geoffrey Breitkopf, a Nassau police officer killed in the line of duty.

Breitkopf, 40, assigned to the department's Bureau of Special Operations, was accidentally shot by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority officer in 2011 as he responded to a call about a knife-wielding man.

The ceremony drew more than 100 law enforcement officials and officers, along with Breitkopf's widow, Paula, and their two young children.

"He really demonstrated, tragically, the dangers police face every day," Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) told those assembled.

Rafael Morales, an officer who served with Breitkopf, was happy to see the permanent tribute.

"This is something that had to be done," he said. "It's a tremendous tragedy -- a tremendous loss to the family and the police department."

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Much of the credit for the memorial -- a bronze marker installed on a boulder in a freshly landscaped spot -- goes to a 16-year-old from Massapequa Park.

Chris Rail, whose father is a Nassau officer, raised almost $2,000 by putting donation cans out in county precincts. Rail said he did it as an Eagle Scout project, enlisting help from fellow Scouts in creating the memorial space.

Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president James Carver said Massapequa Park has a policy against naming streets after fallen officers, but village and town officials helped find a home for the memorial -- at the corner of Clark Boulevard and Front Street.

"We all want to keep the memory of Geoff going on forever," Carver said at the unveiling. "If we forget, everybody forgets."

The night of the fatal shooting on March 12, 2011, Breitkopf arrived in plainclothes at the chaotic crime scene in Massapequa Park with an assault rifle under his arm. The MTA officer who mistakenly shot him "reasonably" believed Breitkopf posed a threat, a district attorney's office investigation later determined.

At the time, police had shot to death the knife-wielding man, Anthony DiGeronimo, 21.

Breitkopf's wife has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the MTA and others. She declined to comment Saturday.

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