A Suffolk police officer who nearly bled to death after he was stabbed during a struggle with a suspect in Patchogue this month is no longer in critical condition, authorities said Thursday.
Officer Christopher Racioppo, hospitalized at Stony Brook University Hospital since the stabbing on April 10, has been upgraded to fair condition, according to Dr. James Vosswinkel, the head of trauma at the hospital and the Suffolk County Police Department’s chief consulting surgeon and medical director.
"We are happy to report that his condition has improved," Vosswinkel said. "He is still receiving intensive treatment and we continue to hope for an optimal recovery."
Racioppo was in a marked patrol car on April 10 when he saw a 1999 Mercedes-Benz driving south erratically with no headlights on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue, police said.
When Racioppo attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspect, Jonathan Nunez of Centereach, allegedly sped off in the Mercedes and crashed into a 2004 Nissan.
Prosecutors said Nunez climbed out of his car, which had flipped to its side, and ran into the yard of a home, where he stabbed the officer.
Prosecutors said Nunez plunged the knife seven centimeters into Racioppo’s left thigh, cutting an artery and a vein.
Nunez was charged with aggravated assault upon a police officer with a deadly weapon, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He pleaded not guilty at his virtual arraignment on April 13 and was ordered held without bail.
Vosswinkel said Racioppo had lost most of his blood after he was stabbed and credited officers, who provided treatment at the scene and rushed him to the hospital, with saving his life.
Officials have also praised Patchogue resident Guillermo Sandoval, a former Marine who helped stanch Racioppo’s bleeding, and Frank "J.R." Recupero, a retired NYPD detective who helped restrain the suspect until he could be arrested.
"I was elated to hear his condition has improved," Sandoval said of Racioppo on Thursday. "I will continue to pray for him and his family."
Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents cops, said the hospital care, prayers and get-well wishes from Suffolk residents made a difference in the officer's improvement.
"It's been a long and arduous road for him through this recovery," DiGerolamo said. "We are extremely grateful for Stony Brook University Hospital and Dr. Vosswinkel, in particular, for the care and treatment he has received. We're hopeful he will be able to recover and return in full capacity after this tragic incident."
While still too early for an accurate prognosis, Vosswinkel said Racioppo could make a full recovery. "We are hoping for a very positive outcome," Vosswinkel said.