Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Officers Attacked by Hatchet-Wielding Stranger Honored as Cops of the Year

The rookie NYPD officer attacked by a hatchet-wielding stranger police described as a "lone wolf terrorist" was honored as a cop of the year Wednesday, along with his three partners who attended to him as he lay bleeding on the sidewalk and shot and killed the suspect. 

Officers Kenneth Healey, Joseph Meeker, Peter Rivera and Taylor Kraft were honored at the annual NYPD gala at the Waldorf on Park Avenue. 

Healey was critically wounded in the October attack in Queens when, without warning, the suspect struck Healey with a hatchet in the back of the head.

Meeker was wounded in the arm by the attacker's hatchet as he jumped to help stop his partner's bleeding. Officers Rivera and Kraft shot and killed the suspect.

"They protected their partners and the public on that Queens street, and then they turned to save officer Healey's life," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at the ceremony. 

"On behalf of a grateful city, thank you," he said as the crowd gave a standing ovation. 

The entire incident lasted six seconds. The officers described the ordeal in an exclusive interview with NBC 4 New York's Jonathan Dienst. 

Healey's skull was fractured and he continues to recover from his traumatic brain injury. 

In a news briefing shortly after the attack, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thompson was a "self-radicalized" individual "self-directed in his activities."

A search warrant of Thompson's home computer revealed he was "visiting websites that are focused on designated terrorist groups -- al-Qaida, ISIS and al-Shabaab -- as well as looking at different acts of violence," John Miller, the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, said at a news briefing several days after the ambush.

The awards dinner was sponsored by the New York City Police Foundation which over the years has raised $120 million dollars to support NYPD and community programs.

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