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Nassau officer gets ‘Top Cop’ award after fatal shooting of suspect

The Nassau County Police Benevolent Association and the Nassau County Legislature are scheduled Monday to honor a county police officer who fatally shot a suspect, recognizing “the officer’s quick response, attentiveness, and use of training to protect the public from immediate danger,” officials said Sunday.

Officer Michael DiClemente will be named “Top Cop” for stopping what PBA President James McDermott called a “murderous rampage” when he fatally shot Michael Delloyd Ward, 46, of Fort Washington, Maryland, on March 12 in Great Neck. Ward struck two people in the head with a baseball bat during a Great Neck road rage confrontation and was accused of fatally striking a pedestrian as part of an earlier crime spree.

DiClemente, who is assigned to Nassau’s Sixth Precinct, will receive a citation during a meeting of the legislature in Mineola at 1 p.m. Monday. DiClemente, a rookie officer on Nassau’s force when the shooting took place, was previously an NYPD officer, officials said.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder previously said DiClemente “did an outstanding job.”

DiClemente fired two shots at Ward, striking him once, after Ward refused to drop a baseball bat, police said. Ward was pronounced dead about 11:30 a.m. at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, police said. Ward’s parents previously told Newsday that their son had struggled with bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder for decades.

In the March 12 road rage incident, Ward was driving a 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV, when he stopped at a stop sign at Maple Street and Bayview Avenue, police said. Two vans behind Ward beeped their horns, and then Ward — without warning — smashed the driver’s side windows of both cars with the baseball bat, police said. One of the drivers came out of his vehicle to confront Ward and was struck in the head, police said. DiClemente — whose name was not released by the police department at the time — came upon the scene while on routine patrol.

Police said Ward drove a short distance to the side of the Equinox gym at the edge of Manhasset Valley Park, with DiClemente behind him. Ward then came out of his Volkswagen carrying a bat, and refused to drop the bat as ordered by DiClemente, police said.

Ward also struck a witness in the head who had tried to intervene, police said. DiClemente fired his Taser gun at Ward, with little effect. DiClemente then fired his handgun.

Ward, according to the NYPD, earlier in the day had gone on a crime spree, including driving a vehicle that stuck and killed a 50-year-old man in Brooklyn. At about 4:30 a.m., Ward hijacked a Honda Odyssey driven by a newspaper deliverer in Manhattan, and about 10 minutes later, hijacked another car, according to the NYPD.

Ward, who had a lengthy criminal record in Maryland and Virginia, was a professional boxer who went by the name “Magic Mike Ward” before he quit the sport in his early 20s, his parents said previously.

“He didn’t go right to the firearm,” said McDermott of the officer’s judgment. “He went right to the Taser and it doesn’t always work; it doesn’t always stop the threat. He’s fully justified in using deadly physical force in using his firearm. He saved two people’s lives at the scene and possibly more.”

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