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 "Baby" 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 Year's Day homicide, was arrested without incident at his uncle's apartment at 390 Bushwick Avenue. Ortiz has been charged with attempted murder in what prosecutors called an "assassination attempt" on Officer Brennan. If convicted, Ortiz could face up to 25 years to life in prison. He pleaded not guilty and remains in custody at Riker's Island.
Since the shooting, Officer Brennan'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, "He's up and he's walking. It's a miracle."
NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Officer Brennan's progress has boosted morale in the entire department. He added, "This 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. It truly is a miracle that he survived."
Although Officer Brennan has returned home to his family he will require outpatient treatment. Commissioner Kelly summed the incident by stating, "He is one lucky young man." For emphasis, Commissioner Kelly held up a jar containing the bullet removed from Officer Brennan's skull.
Preparedness, physical fitness, and perhaps most importantly, the "will to win" 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 "lucky" shots fired by bad guys with far less training and skill with a firearm.
Of course the bad guy's "luck" 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 naÃ¯ve to assume Officer Brennan is alive merely because he's lucky.
What are your thoughts?