NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two men charged in the shooting of two NYPD officers in the Bronx faced a judge on Wednesday, as one of the wounded officers was released from the hospital.
Jason Polanco and Joshua Kemp were arrested Tuesday after an intense manhunt, in connection with the Monday night shooting that wounded officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano. The shooting happened as the two officers, along with three others, were investigating a robbery at a nearby deli in the Fordham section of the Bronx.
Polanco, 24, was charged with five counts of attempted murder of a police officer, robbery, a weapons charge and carjacking, police said.
Kemp, 28, was charged with robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property, police said.
Bail was set at $200,000 for Kemp at a hearing Wednesday night. An Assistant District Attorney said he was a violent felon, and will be subjected to enhanced mandatory minimum sentencing if he is convicted of robbery charge.
That would mean a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 25, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
The prosecutor said the robbery of a deli that preceded the shooting was highly planned – involving the suspects changing clothes to hide their appearances, and lying to the medical personnel at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.
At Polanco’s hearing, an Assistant District Attorney argued for no bail, claiming Polanco was not even approached by officers but shot at them anyway. Polanco was also accused by prosecutors of holding up two people in a car and attempting to discharge a gun during the carjacking.
Polanco’s defense attorney said his client was raised in the Bronx and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and both his parents are pastors. The defense attorney said Polanco will not testify for a grand jury.
Polanco was denied bail and remanded to custody.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, distraught members of the family of Polanco, 24, left court without a word after the hearing.
Before the arraignment, Polanco’s father told CBS2’s Schneider that his son does not have a violent history.
But Polanco’s father regretted the family’s move to a house on Decatur Avenue in the Bronx three years ago, saying it likely influenced his son to hang with the wrong crowd.
Polanco’s father said his son trained in the U.S. Marines, but left basic training. He said his son does not have a criminal record – although police said Tuesday that he had prior arrests for weapons possession charges.
The chain of events started around 10:10 p.m. Monday when Kemp and Polanco entered the Yemen Deli at 180th Street and Webster Avenue and announced a robbery, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
After the robbery, the suspects walked west on 180th Street and north on Tiebout Avenue, Boyce said.
Meanwhile, five members of the 46th Precinct Anti-Crime Unit were preparing to end their day and go off duty when they heard a call of a robbery from a patrol sergeant.
The officers drove down 180th Street past the robbery scene and turned on Tiebout Avenue where they spotted Kemp outside a Chinese restaurant and Polanco inside it, police said.
When the officers got out of their car and approached Kemp, Polanco shot one round through the window of the restaurant, striking Kemp and one officer, police said.
“He sees the officers and fires one round, which strikes Kemp through the right bicep,” Boyce said. “That goes through him and strikes the officer.”
He went outside and fired two more shots and wounded the second officer, police said. One officer returned three shots but missed.
Polanco then ran away and carjacked a white Camaro that he crashed a few blocks away, police said. He jumped out, ditched his gun and fled on foot, they said.
With his bullet wound, Kemp had a third man drive him to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, police said. But when police questioned him, they say his account was inconsistent.
“A bogus story that quickly fell apart when detectives started asking about it,” Boyce said.
The person who took Kemp to the hospital then gave up the full story of what had really happened, Boyce said. It was not clear if that person was also arrested.
Investigators released video early Tuesday that prompted several tips from the public that led to Polanco’s identification and capture, police said.
Investigators said Polanco has a history of arrests. Boyce said police are also looking into whether the suspects were involved in a series of similar grocery store robberies in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“Right now, we’re going to see if they fit that pattern,” Boyce said.
Ernesto Martinez, says he’s a family friend.
“Just want everyone to know that at the end of it all, he’s a good kid and has God in his heart,” Martinez told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
Meanwhile, one of the officers, Aliro Pellerano, who was shot in the arm and torso, was released from St. Barnabas Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. The other officer, Andrew Dossi, has been upgraded to stable condition, NYPD chief surgeon Dr. Eli Kleinman said.
“Their spirits are excellent, they’re conversant and they’re uplifted and very gratified to be improving this quickly, as we are,” Kleinman said.
Pellerano was greeted with bagpipes and applause from an informal honor guard, Papa reported.
The wheelchair was a formality, but Pellerano wore a big smile and shook extended hands.
“I’m happy that he was able to walk on his own two feet, to walk around, and he’s able to go home the next day,” said Sgt. Angel Gonzalez, who was with Pellarano and Dossi when they were wounded.
Later Wednesday, Pellarano was helped up the stairs of his Rockland County home, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was on hand with dozens of the rank-and-file officers to salute Pellerano as he left the hospital.
“It’s a difficult time, but it’s a time when family comes together. And the NYPD blue of every rank is here to say ‘good luck to you,’ ‘we’re behind you,’ but more importantly ‘we’re behind every New York City police officer that’s serving the citizens,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
“To run out and put themselves at risk when they could have turned around and closed their locker, these officers didn’t and they got shot because of that dedication,” Lynch added.
Lynch then left for a meeting with Bratton to discuss a sharp decline in arrests and summonses.
“It’s a dangerous atmosphere,” Lynch said. “We don’t want any more cops shot. We need to come together, but we need a mayor to lead us there.”
Dossi’s father, Joseph, said a bullet just missed his son’s spine. Another shattered the Iraq war veteran’s arm.
While the officers’ relatives are grateful they survived, Polanco’s friend is asking them for forgiveness.
“To the families of the officers, I want you to know God is with you, and if you can find it in your heart to forgive, that would be great,” Martinez said.
The shooting happened about two weeks after Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were ambushed and killed while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The gunman, who made threats to police online prior to the shooting, then killed himself.
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