Nassau Police Officer Nicholas Zaharis was on a night tour last winter when he heard the description on the radio: four men jumped out of a vehicle -- one armed with a shotgun -- and robbed a guy on a Uniondale street.
Zaharis found the car, called for backup and pursued the vehicle as it sped wildly. Then, the car halted at an intersection in Hempstead Village and four men jumped out.
Backup arrived and the men were ultimately arrested and, later, charged, police union officials said.
Zaharis, a 10-year veteran, recounted Monday the Nov. 10 incident as the Nassau Police Benevolent Association recognized him as its April "Top Cop" during a Nassau County Legislature meeting.
"It was definitely a little intense," Zaharis, 35, said Monday. "When they all bailed out, it was like, 'Alright, which one do I go after? Which one has the gun?' "
Police found the shotgun, apparently ditched in a backyard, and a handgun in the car, police officials said. The four defendants -- Jovon Noel, Christian Oglesby, Lance Lyttle and Tremaine Devore -- were indicted in November for first- and second-degree robbery and criminal possession of stolen property, according to an indictment from the Nassau district attorney's office. They all pleaded not guilty. The cases are pending.
Noel's defense attorney, William Shanahan, of Mineola, said: "My client is adamant that he was not involved." Lyttle's attorney, Robert Schalk, of Mineola, did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear whether Devore had a lawyer. Oglesby's attorney, Toni Marie Angeli, of Garden City, declined to comment. In a court filing opposing the government's request for DNA from her client, she said the victim descriptions of the assailants -- six feet tall and "skinny" -- don't match Oglesby, who is "5' tall and 270 pounds."
PBA president James Carver said: "Normally you respond to a call and that's the end of it. You take a report and wait for the detectives. But Police Officer Zaharis . . . was diligent and went around the area to search for this car to make sure there was no other harm to anybody else. "
Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said: "He stepped up. It was great police work."
Reflecting on the pursuit and arrests five months later, Zaharis said: "It was definitely an intense situation. When I got done, I kind of took a sigh of relief. . . . It's a tough world right now for law enforcement, so it's nice when you actually get honored for good deeds."