Colleagues in Blue Hold Their Collective Breath for Injured Officer

Colleagues in Blue Hold Their Collective Breath for Injured Officer

“This is hanging over them day in and day out,” a police official said. “These are unique circumstances.”

Photo

Officer Veve with his wife, Mathes Esther. They have a 2-year-old daughter. Credit via New York Police Department

When a New York City police officer is gravely injured in an on-duty confrontation, the circumstances often involve a firearm. When officers survive, their recovery typically begins quickly — even if it takes months or years to get back on the street. Occasionally, officers hang on for several days, only to succumb: Officer Brian Moore, shot on a Saturday evening in Queens, in 2015, died two days later; Officer Russel Timoshenko died five days after he was shot in the face during a traffic stop in Brooklyn in 2007.

On the suburban street where Officer Veve (pronounced vay-vay) settled with his wife, Mathes Esther Veve, and 2-year-old daughter, neighbors said they could feel his absence, though not a final loss.

“He’s in everybody’s prayers around here,” said Bryan Harron, 62, standing in his driveway on a recent morning across the street from the Veves’ white, two-story home with a child’s wooden swing set in the backyard.

After Officer Veve and his family moved into the neighborhood, around eight years ago, Mr. Harron’s wife, Audrey, assisted them in picking out plants and shrubs for their front lawn, Mr. Harron said. A couple of years later, Officer Veve returned the favor: He helped Ms. Harron rebuild the engine of her 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, a hobby of hers as a member of the Long Island Volkswagen Club.

“She was out, greased up and grunting in the driveway, and he came over and helped because I think he had one back in Haiti and he liked Bugs,” Mr. Harron said with a chuckle, gazing at the reconditioned, cream-colored car.

With the early sun shining across porches adorned with flower pots and American flags, several neighbors noted how long it had been since Officer Veve last stepped on their street. Elias Walters said the buds of his hydrangea and hibiscus plants had blossomed in pink and purple shades as spring had turned to summer.

Photo

On June 4, the day after Officer Veve was injured, an officer stood watch over evidence markers on Church Avenue in Brooklyn.

Credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

“A neighbor came by and said, ‘Everything is blooming,’” said Mr. Walters, 61, whose family emigrated from the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor, in 1965. “Life goes on evolving.”

Mr. Harron said he could not imagine Officer Veve’s succumbing to his injuries, opting rather to focus on the idea of his returning home.

“We don’t want to lose him,” Mr. Harron said. “So, we are not looking at the other end of it.”

Officials have given a harrowing account of Officer Veve’s injuries.

It was shortly before midnight that Saturday when he and other plainclothes officers responded to 911 calls reporting gunshots on Tilden Street in East Flatbush, they said. Officer Veve turned his attention to a black Honda sedan parked in front of a fire hydrant about half a block east of East 53rd Street. A 15-year-old, identified by the authorities as Justin Murrell, was at the wheel, officials said, when he hit the gas and sped off.

Officer Veve “was attempting to hang on” to the driver’s side of the car, said Eric Gonzalez, Brooklyn’s acting district attorney, but he was thrown off as Mr. Murrell wove through the residential blocks at speeds as high as 56 miles per hour.

Some residents who saw the episode, and its aftermath, said they were sorry an officer was hurt but wondered why things had turned so violent so fast. One woman said Mr. Murrell had arrived with friends at the end of the party for her grandson, taken a plate of food and given her a hug. She knew him, and his mother, who was also at the party, since she had cared for him as a small boy.

Photo

Justin Murrell, 15, has been charged as an adult with attempted murder and assault of a police officer in the case. Credit Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Minutes later, she said, Mr. Murrell “scratched off” in the Honda “with speed.”

“They took off after him,” the woman, who provided only her first name, Steph, said of the officers. “We told his mom, ‘Go down the block, because they are going to arrest him.’ But she came back and said they shot him.”

Officials said Officer Veve had fired two shots into the car before falling off. His colleagues carried him to their car and drove him to Kings County Hospital Center.

One of the bullets hit Mr. Murrell in the mouth and lodged in his jaw. He sought treatment at Kings County, but ran off after seeing officers massed out front. He then took a car service car to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. The police later determined that he had been the driver of the Honda, which had been reported stolen in Valley Stream on Long Island.

Mr. Murrell has been charged as an adult with attempted murder and assault of a police officer and has pleaded not guilty. Two passengers in the car, Jeronda Oliver, 18, and Eboni Clinton, 19, were charged with hindering prosecution. A third passenger was not charged.

Deputy Inspector Joseph Gulotta, the commander of the 67th Precinct, told colleagues that Officer Veve, Shield No. 30734, was among his best officers — endowed with good instincts for sniffing out crime. He has amassed more than 350 arrests since joining the force in January 2011, and has been recognized 23 times for excellent or meritorious police duty.

The inspector has kept in close touch with Officer Veve’s family. On Thursday, he was with the family again for several hours at the officer’s bedside.

Continue reading the main story

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *