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Did an NYPD officer abandon his partner,
or did we abandon that NYPD officer? Editorial

Wednesday, June 15, 2005  12:00 p.m.

By now you have heard or read about the NYPD officer who reportedly abandoned his partner who had been shot. 

Upon hearing this story, it is easy to conjure up images of the scene in Saving Private Ryan where one soldier is fighting to the death while another in earshot of this deadly battle just sits and cries.

The Daily News is calling this officer "The Runaway Cop," a cutesy spin on last month's "Runaway Bride." They even featured this incident on their front page complete with those giant headlines for which they are famous? 

We'd like to offer a somewhat different take to this story: ENOUGH!

This has been picked up by just about every media outlet in the country including the online law enforcement media.  Public and law enforcement message boards have been electric with posts decrying this officer.

Just about everyone including many within the law enforcement community have joined the torch-carrying mob calling for everything from termination to a blanket party.

We say "Enough!"

What's Your Opinion on this Story?

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What has turned us against this officer is not any verdict, formal decision or official report; it is the media.

This is the same media that publicly and routinely vilifies our brethren in high profile incidents, questionable use of force occurrences, and when just about any baseless accusation is made against an officer by anyone.

The most shocking part of this situation, though, is that every story you have heard or read from every newspaper, radio station, television station and web site about that evening in Brooklyn has been based on nothing more than a single anonymous source who spoke with a single media person. 

Some fellow - presumably a boss several years and several floors separated from the street - within the New York City Police Department felt the need to violate policy and share confidential information along with opinion and commentary on what he apparently observed on the video tape. 

According to the New York Times, this "official" spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.

So, clearly, this "source" is worried about protecting himself, but has no problem destroying the life of a line officer. 

Clearly, Officer Marrero's level of performance was not up to what this "source" would have done from the comfort of his ivory tower, and what is especially frightening is that this "source" assumedly serves in an Internal Affairs capacity or some other position of authority.  Outrageous!

What we Know

What we officially know so far is murky at best. 

We,, sifted through the various and sometimes contradicting reports of this incident and assembled a quick rundown. Again, this is from media reports.

On June 1, two NYPD officers were approaching a car they had just stopped, PO Patrick Caprice on the driver's side and Officer Gilberto T. Marrero on the passenger side.

Gunfire erupted and this video apparently shows Officer Marrero retreating four to five car lengths away where he took cover and called out a 10-13, officer-needs-assistance.

The suspect began to flee on foot but returned to retrieve his vehicle when he fired additional shots at Officer Caprice who had already been struck in the initial volley.

Officer Caprice, incredibly, took up a one-knee position and returned fire.  He fired 14 shots in all and struck the suspect at least twice according to several reports of the incident.  (The reported actions of Officer Caprice while injured and under fire were nothing short of spectacular)

Officer Marrero returns some time after to find that his partner had been shot. 

At this point, it is not even clear whether Officer Marrero even knew that Officer Caprice had been shot prior to approaching him after the suspect left.

From what we can tell, the entire incident can be measured in seconds. 

At 7:40 p.m. on June 1st, Officer Marrero, a twelve-year-veteran, was just another dopy flatfoot like the rest of us who was making a motor vehicle stop.

By 7:41 p.m. he was a coward - the worst label in our profession - and on his way to becoming public enemy number one, courtesy of our nationwide media

His life now includes dodging the deluge of telephone calls to his home from the news media and the cameramen outside hoping to get a money shot.  And, he must do all of this while some in his former family burn him in effigy. 

Here is a quick blurb from the New York Daily News on Officer Marrero's life today:

"After the detectives left, Marrero hopped a fence in his backyard and then jumped back over the same fence again to dodge photographers. A waiting car whisked him to an NYPD psychiatric and medical evaluation, sources said.  "He's really broken up by this," a police source said. 'It's killing him to be called a coward.'"

This is a grown man, a police officer.  It must be great to be him right now.

Perhaps when the video tape becomes public and all the facts come out, you will say Officer Marrero acted reasonably.

Perhaps you'll feel that while he was no John Wayne, the incident happened quickly, and he did nothing wrong. After all, he heard gunshots and instinctively took cover.

Or maybe it will show that he did panic when the shots rang out.

Either way, you owe it to a brother officer to view it with an open mind.  The incident happened in seconds.  Can you be so sure what you would have done?

No matter how this turns out, isn't he at least owed our support and the benefit of the doubt until we hear and see everything?

We're not trying to launch a blind defense for Officer Marrero.  If he did was he is accused of doing, he should lose his job, and nothing less.  It's just that we know very little up to this point.

In a twisted way, I hope the tape does prove this officer to be a coward. 

Think about it. 

If it shows his actions to be reasonable, it would be quite embarrassing for many within a community which prides itself on "brotherhood" to admit that they contributed to destroying the life of a brother police officer who not only has not been found guilty by any tribunal, but has not yet received even the first shred of due process.

If that's not enough, we allowed ourselves to form opinions against a brother officer based on what is being fed to us by the media, an entity that, by-in-large, has no use for any of us unless we are in a pair of handcuffs.

In our view, at this very early stage, the only coward here so far is this "source" who put a police officer's name on the front page of the newspapers as a coward without having the balls to sign his name to it.

Anyway, that's just our opinion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005  12:00 p.m.

What's Your Opinion on this Story?

Click here





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