An NYPD officer died after he was pushed over a railing early Sunday by a domestic violence suspect who was only partially handcuffed, officials said.
Officer Alain Schaberger fell nine feet down a cement stairwell, landing on his head and breaking his neck, police said.
"It's like I'm waking up in a nightmare," his fiancee, Shoshone Peguese, told the New York Daily News .
"Alain left last night to go on duty to work the night tour. He just said he was tired. I kissed him and told him to be careful."
A U.S. Navy veteran who worked steady midnight tours in the 84th Precinct, Schaberger, 42, was among a group of officers who rushed to Boerum Hill to help a woman who said her boyfriend was threatening to kill her.
Police were trying to arrest ex-con George Villanueva, who has a history of domestic violence, around 4:30 a.m. when he began to resist outside his St. Marks Place home, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“He had one handcuff on his wrist when he pushed the officer with both hands over the railing,” Kelly said.
Schaberger, a 10-year veteran, had a pulse when rushed to Lutheran Hospital but he soon died there, officials said.
Villanueva was charged Sunday with first-degree murder of a police officer, aggravated murder of a police officer and assault. He was in custody and it was not clear whether he had a lawyer.
Two uniformed police officers and a sergeant were escorting Villanueva, 40, outside when he pushed Schaberger, police said. Both suspect and officer are the same height, 5-feet-8-inches tall, although Villanueva is 20 pounds lighter.
“As they led him from the stoop, he began to struggle with officers,” Kelly said. "He pushed officer Schaberger over the railing and down a cement stairwell that leads to the basement. He fell approximately nine feet, striking his head on cement, landing feet up, with a gash on the left side of his head and his neck broken.”
The stoop railing is barely two feet high, Kelly said.
“What appeared to be a routine domestic violence call early this morning became anything but routine,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
Charges are pending against Villanueva, whose rap sheet includes 28 prior arrests, mostly for robbery and burglary, Kelly said. He had been released from prison in February 2005.
His girlfriend had a valid order of protection against him and police had recently arrested him last month for allegedly bothering her, officials said. Police counted a dozen prior domestic violence incidents between the couple.
Schaberger entered the Police Academy two months before the 9/11 terror attacks. He had served in the Navy from 1991 to 1995, police said. Bloomberg said he met with Schaberger's father, Paul, and spoke to his fiancee.
Peguese said she rushed to her fiance's hospital bedside for one final goodbye.
"My mother said not to go and see him like that but I had to," she told the Daily News.
“Officer Schaberger made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our city safe,” the mayor said.