The Long Island police officer who suffered a ruptured artery when he was stabbed in the leg while responding to a crash involving an allegedly intoxicated Mercedes Benz driver over the weekend remained in a medical coma Monday, officials said.
Suffolk County Officer Christopher Racioppo, 31, nearly died from the laceration to his leg, medical officials who treated him said Monday. The trauma surgeon who operated on him said the cop could've died within 20 minutes had a Marine veteran who witnessed Saturday's attack and others not raced to stem the bleeding.
Racioppo is still "not out of the woods" and remains in a state of "medical shock," unable to talk, Dr. James Vosswinkel, chief of trauma surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, said Monday. Vosswinkel said Racioppo lost most of the blood in his leg. Long-term impacts, including whether he'll be able to walk at some point again, are still uncertain at this point.
The officer remains hospitalized at Stony Brook University Hospital. His suspected assailant, identified as 25-year-old Jonathan Nunez, remains hospitalized at the same facility, officials said.
Nunez has several prior arrests and investigators are still trying to understand why he fled the scene Saturday night and allegedly attacked Racioppo. Cops started to pursue Nunez on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue around 10:45 p.m. that night because he was allegedly "driving erratically with no headlights," officials have said.
Sometime after Racioppo turned on his overhead lights, Nunez crashed the Mercedes he was driving into a Nissan where the roadway intersects with Brook Street. Then Nunez got out of the car and "failed to comply with the officer's commands," according to officials.
A physical altercation ensued between Nunez and Racioppo, at which point Nunez allegedly stabbed the officer in the leg. Other responding officers and two good Samaritans subdued the suspect.
One of those witnesses was Guillermo Sandoval, a Marine veteran who rushed out of his home after he heard the Nissan crash into a tree in his lawn. Sandoval said he saw Nunez ask for help, but at the same time, he says he saw Racioppo tell Nunez to stand down. Then the two started to fight in his backyard.
"The officer was down. I saw that he had a wound, here on his leg, basically he needed help," Sandoval recalled.
He said he went back into his home to call 911 and grab a belt to try to use as a tourniquet to help stop the officer's bleeding. By the time he returned, other officers had arrived and they along with another witness, a retired NYPD officer, were assisting the injured cop. Nunez was then taken into custody.
The suspect faces charges of aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. Attorney information for Nunez was not immediately known, nor was an update on his condition immediately available Monday. Authorities previously described the injuries he suffered in the crash as non-life-threatening.