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John Thomas gets 55 to life in shooting of NYPD’s Craig Bier

John F. Thomas, right, of Jamaica, Queens, was

John F. Thomas, right, of Jamaica, Queens, was sentenced Wednesday to 55 years to life in prison for shooting and wounding NYPD Sgt. Craig Bier, left, of Hicksville in 2012. Credit: NYPD

A Queens man who shot and wounded a decorated NYPD sergeant from Hicksville in 2012 was sentenced Wednesday to 55 years to life in prison.

Justice Gregory Lasak announced the sentence, the maximum allowed by law, at State Supreme Court in Queens as the defendant, John F. Thomas, 28, looked on.

In June, a jury convicted Thomas of first-degree attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault on a police officer, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and second-degree assault. Thomas shot Sgt. Craig Bier twice, once in each leg, on Aug. 8, 2012, officials said.

In a statement released after the sentencing, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown described the shooting as “a senseless, violent act and once again illustrates how dangerous police work is. The defendant has shown that he has no regard for authority and is a menace to society.”

Ikiesha Al-Shabazz, Thomas’ Manhattan-based attorney, did not return a call seeking comment.

Police said Bier was part of an anti-gang unit on patrol at about 10:30 p.m. when he and his partner, Det. Nicholas Romano, approached Thomas at the intersection of 107th Avenue and Union Hall Street in Jamaica, just south of York College, police said at the time.

Bier identified himself as a police officer, officials said, and Thomas, riding a bicycle, jumped off and fled down an alley toward a tall chain-link fence with the sergeant in pursuit.

Thomas jumped the fence and landed on a white van, according to an account of the confrontation provided at the time by then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Bier ran back to 107th Avenue in an attempt to block Thomas’ escape when the two exchanged gunfire, Kelly said.

NYPD officials said afterward that Bier, a 15-year veteran who graduated from Chaminade High School and Stony Brook University, had compiled 65 medals, 14 for meritorious police duty.

His mother, Betty Bier, said afterward that the shooting of her son was a repeat of a violent part of the family’s NYPD history. In 1971, her then-husband and Bier’s father survived a gunshot to the face while working as an NYPD officer in Times Square.

After the jury’s June verdict, Bier said he had “a slew of emotions” as he awaited Thomas’ sentencing.

“It was weighing down on me,” Bier said. “It was a chapter in my life I’d rather put behind me, and I’m sure sentencing will be the final touch, but it just feels like it’s been a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

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