NYPD officers Jonathan McMilleon and Richard Galvez were working the night shift in East New York, Brooklyn, when a cabdriver told them about a street fight a block away. The cabbie said he heard gunshots.
McMilleon, 31, of Franklin Square, and his partner, Galvez, 25, of Centereach, raced to the scene in their patrol car and saw two men struggling over a gun. The officers shouted for them to drop the firearm. One of the combatants grabbed the weapon instead, pointed it at Galvez and pulled the trigger.
The bullet meant for Galvez missed him, but he didn't. The officer returned fire and hit the gunman in the arm and midsection.
For their efforts, the pair were honored Thursday along with 35 other NYPD officers at the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's "The Finest of Finest" awards ceremony in Manhattan. The annual ceremony recognizes NYPD officers who put themselves in the line of fire to protect the innocent.
"Those who have received these awards will let you know it is a tradition that we hold close to our hearts," said PBA president Pat Lynch, who presented the recipients, accompanied by family and friends, with plaques recognizing them. "These are stories of heroism."
Both McMilleon and Galvez, who have been working together for more than two years, said their close partnership can be the difference between dying or ending their watch alive.
"We just clicked," McMilleon said. Added Galvez, "We can read off each other."
The quick thinking and bravery of Officer Eric Iocco, 28, another Long Island resident, was also lauded. The New Hyde Park man and three other officers arrived on a call in Bayside, Queens, to find a husband plunging a knife into his wife as he held her down in their apartment complex courtyard.
"The woman was screaming 'He's killing me. I'm dying,' " Iocco said during the event at the Water Club restaurant. "We told him a bunch of times" to drop his knife. "He started to come at me with the knife and that's when I shot him. Once in the arm and then in the chest." The woman recovered but the man died -- a fact not easy to forget, Iocco said.
"It's nice to know that she survived, but it's not a good feeling to have taken someone's life even if they were doing something wrong," said Iocco, who studied finance at St. John's.
He said he chose police work because an office job was not for him. After five years on the force, Iocco said he still enjoys being out on the street, helping people. "It's more rewarding than sitting inside all day."