Editor's Note — PoliceOne sends our sympathies to the injured officers and their families in light of this tragic event.
Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar lead instructor, Dave Smith, said that officers are always taught that traffic stops are among the most dangerous thing you can do. The reason is three-fold: 1) You expect compliance (guard may be down); 2) You don't know who you've stopped (occupant has one-up on you); 3) You're in a high-risk environment (can't control what is going on around you, e.g., drunk drivers)
"It's hard to maintain the mental peak that you need in every stop, because most drivers are 'yes people,'" Smith said.
In 2005, an FBI report confirmed that the majority of line-of-duty officer deaths took place during a traffic stop. "The statistics say it is time to instill training that prevents officer complacency," Smith said. "It's not just the training officer's or your supervisor's job, it is your job to prepare yourself to be at your peak, regardless of how many times you go on a call."
"One will recover and one is clinging to life"
By Joseph Mallia
NEW YORK — Two New York Police Department officers were shot during a routine traffic stop in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn early Monday morning.
The two officers were on patrol in a marked car when, at 2:30 a.m., they pulled over a black SUV that they thought had been stolen and were fired upon from the car, the police said. One of the officers was able to return fire, police said.
New York City crime scene investigator examines fingerprints taken from a stolen sports utility vehicle which was allegedly driven by three men who shot two police officers in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, NY on July 9, 2007. The two officers were shot during a routine traffic stop early Monday morning. (AP Photo/Adam Rountree)
Officer Russell Timoshenko, 23, was shot twice in the face and both .45 caliber bullets remained lodged in the back of his head, police said.
Bullets struck the other officer, Herman Yan, 26, in the left forearm and in the chest area of his bulletproof vest, police said.
"One will recover and one is clinging to life," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference. "I ask all New Yorkers to pray for their recovery."
A police source said investigators believe there were three people in the SUV, and two of them fired on the officers during the traffic stop at the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Rogers Avenue.
Timoshenko was in "extremely critical condition," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference at Kings County Hospital, where both officers were taken.
Yan was in stable condition and expected to live. "We have every reason to believe that his life was saved by his bullet-proof vest," Kelly said.
Timoshenko, from Staten Island, has been on the force for 1 1/2 years. Yan, from Brooklyn, has been on the force for 3 years.
Bloomberg said the officers had been on "routine patrol in the 71st Precinct. They ran a license plate on a BMW sports utility truck. Turned out the license plate was registered to a Mitsubishi sports utility truck."
"As they approached the vehicle, Officer Yan from the driver's side and Officer Timoshenko from the passenger's side, gunfire erupted from the passenger's side," Bloomberg said. "Officer Timoshenko was shot. Officer Yan returned fire and went to help Officer Timoshenko when he (Yan) was shot as well."
Bloomberg said he had spoken to Yan and, "all things considered he was in good spirits." Yan, whose girlfriend and aunt were with him at the hospital, "should make a full recovery," he said.
"Tragically, the same can't be said about Officer Timoshenko. He was shot twice in the face and currently in surgery. He apparently has two bullets lodged in the back of his head and is in grave condition."
Bloomberg said he spoke to Timoshenko's parents. "I gave thanks from a concerned city, but as a parent I can't come close to understanding their feelings," he said.
The BMW was found abandoned a few blocks away from the shooting scene, and no weapons were found.
"The terrible events are proof once again of a fundamental truth we've learned again and again -- guns, when they fall into the hands of the wrong people, have tragic consequences," Bloomberg said.
Copyright 2007 Newsday
2 NYPD officers shot during traffic stop