Four Nassau police officers who worked as a team to rescue a suicidal man who threatened to jump off the second floor of a Garden City shopping center — some 30 feet in the air — were named “Top Cops” Monday during a meeting of the Nassau County Legislature.
“The professionalism, courage, the willingness to put yourself in harm’s way is truly something that’s awe inspiring,” said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park).
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder called the officers’ actions “outstanding.”
Third Precinct Officers Edward Hoctor and Michael O’Brien, responding to a 911 call on Dec. 4, immediately cleared vehicle and pedestrian traffic from the street below and began to talk to the man, said Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James McDermott.
“We were trying to assure him this was not the way to go, just trying to explain to him that jumping would make things so much worse,” said O’Brien, an 11-year department veteran.
Meanwhile, Officers Steven Liguori and Michael Vergano got to the man and Vergano, an 11-year veteran, started talking to him, so, according to Liguori, “I can attempt to make a grab.”
Liguori, a three-year veteran whose wrist was shattered during an IED attack on his base in Afghanistan while serving in the Army, said it was a “split-second decision” to grab the man, who was much larger in stature.
McDermott, the union president, said the scenario could have easily resulted in the officers getting hurt.
“That was a big man and he could have went over the side very easily. . . . These guys did a remarkable job.”
“I bearhugged him,” said Liguori. “You don’t have time to think like that. When someone needs help, we’re required to act.”
Hoctor, a three-year-department veteran, said he and his fellow officers were most concerned with helping the man and protecting the public.
“There was a lot of people there [shopping]; it was the holiday season, God forbid he jumped, you don’t want him to hurt, injure or kill someone else.”
In a separate “Top Cop” award, two detectives were recognized for making an arrest in the Nov. 9 fatal hit-and-run of Adelphi University honors student Taranjit Parmar, 18, in a Levittown parking lot.
Det. Gary Ferrucci, who has been with the department for 48 years, and Det. James Malone, both of the department’s Homicide Squad, were credited by Ryder with “doing great work in apprehending the suspect.”
Daniel Coppolo of Deer Park fled, driving the wrong way on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, prosecutors have said.
Coppolo was arrested on Nov. 13 after he allegedly shoplifted from a Target in Westbury and threatened an employee with a knife, authorities said.
Coppolo, 31, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, tampering with evidence and reckless endangerment in the incident.