At approximately 3:40 this morning, Police Officer Brian Groves and his partner, Police Officer Erick Corniel, were conducting a vertical patrol in the stairwell of the Seward Park Public Housing Development at 64-66 Essex Street in Manhattan. When Officer Groves opened the door to the stairwell on the 22nd floor, he saw a man with a silver revolver. Officer Groves yelled "gun", so his partner, who was at the opposite stairwell, could hear. The gunman fled down four flights of stairs between the 19th and the 18th floor, where he turned and fired at least one time, striking Officer Groves in the chest, at the heart. Officer Groves returned fire, four times. It is unknown whether his assailant was struck, however.
The bullet-resistant vest that Officer Groves was wearing stopped the round. Not realizing he was shot, Officer Groves continued the pursuit to the 15th floor, where he fell and his assailant escaped. The assailant was described as a male black in his 20s, five-foot, nine inches tall, thin build, with his hair braided in beaded corn-rows. He wore a black shirt and red basketball shorts with beige stripes.
Officer Groves was the 9th New York City Police Officer to be shot in the line of duty so far this year. Many others have been stabbed. Officer Groves is lucky to be alive. He was shot from about eight feet away. He almost certainly would have been killed had it not been for his bullet resistant vest. The lead bullet lodged in his vest at the sternum; just behind the sternum sits the right ventricle of the heart. Doctors examined Officer Groves to make sure his heart wasn't bruised as a result of the trauma to the sternum.
Officer Groves was doing what so many officers do every day; stopping a suspicious individual to question him. The vertical patrol that he and his partner engaged in is a common, proactive police practice to give some measure of safety to residents of public housing. In this particular instance, there had been reports of disorderly persons and narcotics activity in the stairwells there.
Approximately four percent of the city's population resides in public housing, but it experiences about 20% of all violent crime
Officer Groves, who will celebrate his 31st birthday later this month, has been a police officer since 2005, assigned to the housing bureau. By the grace of God and Kevlar, Officer Groves is expected to return home to his wife Nicole and their two young daughters. It was a close call; one that too many officers have experienced this year. But the Police Department will persist, nonetheless, in doing all that it can to take guns off the streets, and gunmen out of circulation.
I want to thank the doctors and staff here at Bellevue for their outstanding service to our police officers and to the community at-large.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times