Sumit Sulan had been an NYPD cop for just nine months when he and fellow officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora responded in January to what they presumed was a routine domestic violence call in Harlem.
At first, the call to an apartment building seemed like a good opportunity for Rivera and Mora, more experienced officers, to give Sulan, 27, and a relatively green rookie, some on-the-job guidance on how to handle a family disturbance.
But in an instant, what followed was anything but routine as an armed man burst out of an apartment unit bedroom and opened fire at Rivera and Mora. With both cops mortally wounded, Sulan returned fire, shooting Lashawn McNeil, 47, who died of his wounds a few days later.
On Tuesday, the NYPD recognized Sulan as a hero for his actions that Jan. 21 night as Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell promoted him to the rank of detective, something she had done posthumously for Rivera and Mora.
With less than a year on the force, Sulan’s promotion appears to be one of the quickest to the detective rank in NYPD history. It is likely that Sulan may get a further decoration in the future from the NYPD, officials said.
"It is reserved for exceptional circumstances," said one former NYPD chief, who likened Sulan’s hike in rank to a battlefield promotion.
Based on Sewell's praise of Sulan taking on a gunman as two cops lay dying nearby, he definitely acted exceptional.
"Like his partners, he is an example that police officers are ordinary people called upon to do extraordinary things, and they often do," Sewell said of Sulan during a small ceremony at police headquarters in Manhattan "The action taken by Officer Sulan likely saved the lives of the other officers responding to that apartment."
Sulan, an immigrant from India who lives in Queens, wasn’t available for comment Tuesday.
About three weeks ago, Sulan and the other officers were responding to a 911 call for a domestic dispute between McNeil and his mother at an apartment building on West 135th Street near Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem.
After McNeil shot Rivera, 22, and Mora, 27, Sulan reacted fast. He moved McNeil’s mother and brother to a safe position before returning fire, hitting McNeil. Rivera died a short time later at a nearby hospital, while Mora lingered for a few days before he succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 26. McNeil died from his wounds on Jan. 24.
Investigators later determined that the semiautomatic Glock handgun McNeil used to kill the officers had an expanded ammunition clip which could hold up to 40 rounds. Also found under the mattress in the bedroom was an AR-15 with an expanded clip that held 30 live rounds, according to police. The Glock had been stolen in 2017 from its rightful owner in Baltimore, according to police.
The detective badge Sewell gave Sulan bore the number "332," which she said symbolized all three officers from the 32nd Precinct.