NEW YORK -- A New York City police officer's skull was broken when he was shot Saturday while sleeping in his personal vehicle between shifts, but he is expected to fully recover, the city's new police commissioner said, calling the officer “lucky.”
Commissioner Keechant Sewell, sworn in just hours earlier, told a news conference that the officer has a fractured skull and had undergone surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian hospital, where a doctor said the bullet missed vital structures in his head by millimeters after entering his temple. Bullet fragments were removed from his wound, the doctor said.
“We are lucky, fortunate and grateful on this New Year’s Day,” Sewell said.
Sewell said the shooting occurred around 6:15 a.m. in the parking lot of a precinct house in East Harlem when the officer was awakened by the sound of glass shattering in his car and felt pain in the left side of his head.
The officer left the vehicle and was aided by a sergeant who saw blood coming from his head before an ambulance took him to the hospital, Sewell said.
She said it was unknown whether the seven-year member of the force was targeted, but the round was apparently fired from “a significant distance away” and other officers sleeping in their vehicles nearby did not hear gunfire.
“It’s hard to tell who the intended target was, if any, but let me say this: There are no stray bullets. There is somebody firing that weapon and we intend to locate that person if possible,” she said.
The commissioner said detectives were canvassing the area for evidence, including videos.
He was sleeping in his vehicle because precinct bunks were full, officials said. A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest.
Authorities said the bullet seemed to have been deflected by the rear passenger window it appeared to go through, or perhaps by the officer's skull.
Sewell said the officer had worked a full shift Friday in Central Park and was resting before starting another shift at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Associated Press Writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this story.