Off-duty NYC cop halts mugging, catches attacker

By John Valenti

An off-duty New York City police officer foiled a robbery attempt in Valley Stream, tracking down the assailant and helping to arrest him moments after he witnessed an attack.

Nassau County police said the officer, Edward Bilardi, was driving along North Central Avenue at 2:11 p.m. Sunday when he saw Samuel Denis, 24, of 310 Miriam Ct., Elmont, attacking a 76-year-old man, whom authorities did not identify.

When Bilardi came upon the scene, Denis had the man on the ground and was striking him in the chest with a metal rod, forcing the man to hand over cash. Police said Denis had grabbed the man by the throat from behind and struck him in the face with the rod, before knocking him down and striking him further.

Acting quickly, Bilardi stopped, jumped out of his car, identified himself as a police officer, and gave chase.

He pursued Denis into an alley on nearby Sapir Street, where Denis allegedly picked up a shovel and threatened the officer. Bilardi soon was joined by Jeffrey Rios, a Nassau County police officer of the Fifth Precinct, and the two police officers ordered Denis to "get on the ground," police said.

Denis resisted but was subdued. He was charged with first-degree robbery and resisting arrest in First District Court in Hempstead.

Police said the victim of the attack was taken to Franklin Hospital Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.

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