On January 31, 2012, NYPD Officer Kevin Brennan, 29, who was working in a plain clothes unit, responded to a report of shots fired at 140 Moore Street in Brushwick. When he arrived, he observed three suspects fleeing the scene on foot and gave chase. Moments later, one of the suspects, 21 year-old Luis â€śBabyâ€ť Ortiz shot Officer Brennan in the head at point-blank range with a .38 caliber bullet, which lodged in the base of his skull.
Ortiz, who was wanted for questioning in a New Yearâ€™s Day homicide, was arrested without incident at his uncleâ€™s apartment at 390 Bushwick Avenue. Ortiz has been charged with attempted murder in what prosecutors called an â€śassassination attemptâ€ť on Officer Brennan. If convicted, Ortiz could face up to 25 years to life in prison.Â He pleaded not guilty and remains in custody at Rikerâ€™s Island.
Since the shooting, Officer Brennanâ€™s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. Just days after the incident, Officer Brennan was home with his wife, Janet, and 7-week-old daughter, Maeve. Deputy Inspector Michael Kemper declared in a public meeting, â€śHeâ€™s up and heâ€™s walking. Itâ€™s a miracle.â€ť
NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Officer Brennanâ€™s progress has boosted morale in the entire department. He added, â€śThis young man gave his all. We see in the film (surveillance footage) where he tackles this individual (who) has a gun in his hand. He knew. He saw the gun. And yet he went right at him and grabbed him, and he was shot at point blank range.Â It truly is a miracle that he survived.â€ť
Although Officer Brennan has returned home to his family he will require outpatient treatment. Commissioner Kelly summed the incident by stating, â€śHe is one lucky young man.â€ť For emphasis, Commissioner Kelly held up a jar containing the bullet removed from Officer Brennanâ€™s skull.
Preparedness, physical fitness, and perhaps most importantly, the â€świll to winâ€ť despite the odds are critical elements in the outcome of a life-and-death encounter. Yet each year far too many well-trained, fit, and dedicated officers are killed by â€śluckyâ€ť shots fired by bad guys with far less training and skill with a firearm.
Of course the bad guyâ€™s â€śluckâ€ť could be attributed to several factors. Bad guys are usually the ones dictating the action and the officer often is relegated, at least initially, to a reactionary role. Bad guys have no regard for their backdrop, collateral damage, administrative discipline, or how the incident might look when a selected portion is shown on the news.
While luck might have been a factor in this incident (if the bullet had impacted in a slightly different area, Officer Brennan could have been killed instantly) it would be naĂŻve to assume Officer Brennan is alive merely because heâ€™s lucky.
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