Mourners Say Goodbye To Nassau Co. Police Officer Califano

Lauded As Stellar Family Man Who Took Pride In His Work

SEAFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The deacon of Michael Califano’s church said the veteran Nassau County cop was being remembered as “the picture of a dedicated family man.” A funeral was held Thursday for the officer who was killed last weekend.

WCBS 880 Reporter Sophia Hall spoke with a friend who says Califano was a great family man

1010 WINS Reporter Mona Rivera spoke with Califano’s former co-worker

califano family Mourners Say Goodbye To Nassau Co. Police Officer Califano

Michael Califano with his sons Michael, Christopher and Andrew, as well as his wife Jackie. (Credit: Handout)

Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers gathered across the street from Maria Regina Roman Catholic Church in Seaford.

“Politicians, dignitaries, we have people from the neighborhoods, everybody is out here, because it hits home for everybody,” said officer James McDermott.

“Mike was a tremendous cop. He was a great person. A great family man. He was there for everybody. Always had a smile on his face. He will be greatly missed by everybody here,” John Bilello of Nassau County Police told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Does the Long Island Expressway have a safety problem? Leave a comment below.

The 44-year old officer died while he was conducting a traffic stop last Friday night. He had pulled over to issue a warning ticket to a truck driver in the westbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway, when he was rammed from behind by another truck driver.

califano funeral 012 Mourners Say Goodbye To Nassau Co. Police Officer Califano

Casket of Officer Michael Califano (Photo/Mona Rivera)

Investigators said 25-year-old John Kaley of Connecticut – the driver of that second truck – fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed over the road’s rumble strips into the shoulder, crushing Califano’s police cruiser.

“It was terrible. We have police officers that were there that have never seen a car that was that badly damaged. I don’t think he had a chance,” said Jim Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.

Police said there were no signs of alcohol in Kaley’s system. He was charged with third-degree criminally-negligent homicide.

“There is a requirement that after x number of hours on the road, you need to get rest and they played into our decision to charge criminally negligent homicide,” said Lawrence Mulvey, Nassau County Police Commissioner.

califano funeral Mourners Say Goodbye To Nassau Co. Police Officer Califano

Cover of funeral program (Photo/Mona Rivera)

“No allegation at all of any alcohol involvement, any drugs, nothing like this, simply a car accident that resulted in a death. A horrible tragedy,” said William Petrillo, Kaley’s Defense Attorney.

Retired Highway Patrol Police Officer Lynndon Ang said when Califano was out on the roads, he knew the nature of the unit’s work made for a potentially perilous tour of duty on a daily basis.

“There are days you think about it more than others. There are days I go to work and I can look at the weather and the temperature and the environment, and it is much more prevalent in my mind that this is going to be a very dangerous day,” he said.

The casket bearing Officer Califano was escorted by thousands through the streets of Seaford –his funeral mass at the same church where he and his widow, Jackie, were married, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

 The pain on her face was almost too much to bear as she clung to their young children,

Michael Jr., 13, Andrew, 6, and 11-year-old Christopher, who was wearing his father’s police hat.

“By far the nicest guy I knew,” one mourner said. “Always had a smile on his face.”

For Officer Califano, family and duty mattered more than anything. Killed three years after achieving his dream of earning assignment on Nassau’s elite Highway Patrol Unit, he was proud and committed.

Nassau County PBA tells 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera that they will be taking donations for the officer’s widow and children

“Those that go there understand that, accept that risk, and put their lives on the line in a different way than others do. That was something that he wanted – a coveted position,” Mulvey said.

The Califanos lost an infant daughter in 2003 to a congenital disease. Officer Califano’s partners noted that he never once complained.

“He went to the hospital to see her every day right from work and came back to work and right back to the hospital the next day,” Officer Michael Mullen told McLogan.

The outpouring of love on Thursday was overwhelming.

An entire community is heartbroken and indebted to a police officer killed protecting them — the public.

“It bonds us, brings everyone together from all over the country. We are just blessed with this great support,” Carver said.

Jackie Califano offered the following message: “When things seem dark take a moment to think of Mike’s smiling face and allow his memory to help light your way.”

More from Sophia Hall
  • officer

    I am a court officer and was at his arraignment. He showed no remorse. and..NO..he was not in shock. Only concerned for himself. God bless the officer and his family.

  • Johnny

    I can see that new move over law worked out quite well. We need more laws please!

  • captbillsdaughter

    a good man taken far too early from the wife and children who loved him, the other family he served nassau county with. a tragic loss that brought thousands out on a cold day to mourn someone many of them didn’t know. the sound of pipes & drums and taps on a day like today is especially painful and sad. my dad was nypd for 34 years. to mrs califano and her sons – may you be comforted by family, friends, and the long blue line. rip officer caliano.

  • John

    That truck driver that caused this tragic accident that took Officer Califano’s life had no business driving on the road if he was so overtired.Why did his girlfriend allow him to get behind the wheel of his vehicle? He should have used his own common sense!May God grant Mrs Califano and her children and the rest of Officer Califano’s family and friends strength and courage in the days and weeks ahead.They lost a truly brave and caring human being.

  • An Officers mother

    God bless his family. The Long Island Exp. is very dark and very dangerous for anyone driving throughout exit 39. What will be done about that? Does someone else have to die? To the cop haters “Die” it should have been you.

    • esther teitelbaum

      “To the cop haters “Die” it should have been you”

      Oh my Lord. That is an awful thing to say. I am ashamed and embarrassed for you. What a despicable comment. May God have mercy on YOUR soul.

    • 01608

      An officers mother, YOU need help. Dose ur p.o. son feel the same? Wish I could find out but 3am comes fast.

  • The Truth Hurts

    Great. For at least a couple of hours, bogus traffic violations won’t be written by Nassau County cops.

    Should happen more often.

    • Nassau PBA

      Wow, “truth hurts”, do you truly believe what you write? If so, your evil soul should rot in hell where it belongs.

  • sk

    i feel horrible about what happened to this cop. Everyoen wants to blame the driver whether he was innocent or not. But first of all, we don’t know if the driver was driving for so long. The prosecutor didn’t mention how long you have ot drive before resting. Maybe its not the driver. I think there should be a law about driving so late with a large truck. those are dangerouos without the driver falling asleep!

    • Mr. Armenia

      They only charged the driver because a cop was killed

      • Dean

        Mr Armenia your comment makes no sense. It would not have been a civilian giving the truck driver a warning-citation so yes, he was charged because the victim was a cop.

  • mak

    It’s not the LIE that is the problem. It’s the drivers on the LIE … and on the Northern State, and on the Southern State, and on the Meadowbrook, and on the … never mind. You get the picture.

    To paraphrase another pithy saying, “It’s not the LIE that kills people. It’s the drivers that kill people.”

    Sincere condolences go out to the officer’s family.

  • Mike

    This is not the first time this sort of accident happened. I would like to believe that procedures for issuing tickets on the side of a highway shoukld have been reviewed and should have been ammended to direct the oprations to the next exit ramp off the highway shoulder…….this is a tragedy that can be avoided in the future.

  • Mr. Armenia

    The only reason why Mr. Kaley is being charged is because the victim is a cop.

  • remy saldua

    my sincere condolences to the bereaved family. am from the philippines, but i do feel the agony of those left behind. things happen here too……..
    may THE LORD be with him.

  • jore

    Unfortunately, i have no respect for officers die to their racist and abuse of their authority. will tell you all about how officers really behave

    • Jore is an idiot

      What? You don’t make sense.

    • sk

      why bring up something that has nothing to do with what happened? the police officer was killed getting out and trying to give soemoen a ticket. thta officer was killed. it had nothing to do with racism, abuse. Have some compassion and sympathy! This could have been you or any familiy member

  • Angela Ohanian

    Sincere condolences to his family and may he rest in peace. What a shame, too young.

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