An NYPD officer on late-night anti-looting patrol in Brooklyn was stabbed in the neck in an unprovoked attack that ended with multiple officers' guns being fired, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. The attacker and two other officers were hit by gunfire, Shea said.
The three officers weren't seriously injured in the Wednesday night attack, the police commissioner said. The stabbing missed a major artery of one officer, he said, and two others were shot in the hand. The attacker is hospitalized in critical condition, and the three officers are stable, according to Shea.
"It appears to be a complete, cowardly, despicable, unprovoked attack on a defenseless police officer, and thank God we're not planning a funeral right now," Shea said at a news conference just after 2:30 a.m. Thursday at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, where all four were being treated. Joining Shea there were Mayor Bill de Blasio and others from the NYPD.
On Thursday, de Blasio identified the stabbed officer as Yayonfrant Jean Pierre and the two officers shot in a struggle after the stabbing as Randy Ramnarine and Dexter Chiu.
The attack came on yet another night of protests over policing in New York and beyond that were catalyzed by a bystander's video depicting the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Wednesday was the third night of a curfew imposed by New York City in an attempt to stop looting and other unrest. In addition to peaceful protests, there has been looting and vandalism, which the NYPD has sought to address with patrols like the one Wednesday night in Brooklyn. Wednesday’s curfew had begun at 8 p.m., almost four hours before the stabbing and shooting.
"Look, this is a moment in our history we gotta support each other. No matter what else is happening around us, we gotta be there for each other. Officers protect us; we have to respect, support, protect them," de Blasio said. "We gotta find a way to move forward, no matter what is thrown at us, the coronavirus and everything else, we have to find a way to come together and move forward."
What happened in Brooklyn began at about 11:45 p.m. when two officers were on the anti-looting patrol, assigned to deter and stop store break-ins, near Flatbush and Church avenues, Shea said.
Such patrols have been deployed across the city, including in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood was hit for several days with widespread looting and other theft. But, by Tuesday, on one stretch of West Broadway, officers in small groups stood in riot gear, sometimes in low light or the dark, in front of boarded-up stores.
Shea said that local and federal prosecutors were reviewing Wednesday's attack.
"Without warning,” Shea said, “video surveillance shows a male walk up to the officers casually, take out a knife and stab one of the officers in the neck.”
One or two blocks away, a uniformed sergeant and police officer went to the scene after hearing shots and "when they got there, they saw the perpetrator with a gun in his hand, which we believe belonged to one of the officers," Shea said.
The attacker was struck "multiple times," said Shea, who did not detail who fired. A total of 22 shell casings were recovered from different officers' weapons, he said.
Shea did not disclose the name of the accused attacker.
He dismissed a reporter's question at the hospital asking about unrelated video recordings appearing to show assaults on protesters by NYPD officers.
"I'm not getting into that now," Shea said. "Wrong time, wrong place."