NYPD officer who was shot in the face during Pa. traffic stop dies
NEW YORK — A police officer shot in the face during a traffic stop died Saturday, and the men accused of shooting him and his partner face first-degree murder charges, officials said.
Russel Timoshenko, 23, died while on life support at Kings County Hospital from the gunshot wounds he suffered early Monday when he and his partner stopped a stolen SUV in Brooklyn, according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Timoshenko had been paralyzed, suffered brain swelling and was unable to breathe on his own. His partner, Herman Yan, hit in the chest and arm but saved by his bullet-resistant vest, was released from the hospital Tuesday.
Three men who had faced attempted murder charges will be arraigned Monday on first-degree murder charges, Brooklyn prosecutors said. They include two 34-year-old ex-convicts captured this week in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and a third man accused of driving the getaway car, authorities said.
"Officer Timoshenko made the ultimate sacrifice with unflinching bravery and dedication to duty," Kelly said. "We'll never forget him, and we're more committed than ever to seeing to it that those responsible for this crime are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Timoshenko's parents were by his side at the time of death, and a procession of officers, including Yan, filed past the body to pay their respects, Kelly said.
Kings County Hospital doctor Robert Kurtz said the activity in the officer's brain had ceased. "And that's death in New York state," he said.
By the time Timoshenko arrived at the hospital, he had been without oxygen at least 15 minutes and there was little chance of survival. "From the second those bullets hit, he was unable to breathe and unable to move a muscle in his body," Kurtz said.
Both Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed their condolences.
"While I can't know the anguish they are going through, I want Russel's parents Leonid and Tatyana to know their son was a hero," Bloomberg said in a statement. The mayor was out of town earlier Saturday, but was meeting privately with Timoshenko's family at the hospital Saturday evening.
The president of Timoshenko's union said the Belarus native, who joined the force in January 2006, would be mourned by the entire city.
"One can not help but notice that the sincere expressions of concern for Officer Timoshenko before his passing came from people of all races, colors and creeds," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch. "These are the people that Russel wanted to protect. They are why he became a New York City police officer. They are the people for whom he gave his life."
Robert J. Ellis, Dexter Bostic and Lee Woods could all be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted of killing Timoshenko and wounding Yan, prosecutors said.
Pennsylvania state troopers captured Ellis in Pennsylvania early Thursday morning, ending an intense manhunt that spanned three days and several states. Bostic was caught near the same remote spot on Wednesday.
Investigators said the two had a friend slip them out of the city by car shortly after the shooting. After pooling their money to fill up on gas in Connecticut, they agreed to have the unidentified driver keep going until there was a half a tank, then turn back and leave them behind in the wilderness, police said.
Bostic and Ellis were riding in a stolen SUV driven by Woods, when Timoshenko and Yan, 26, pulled the vehicle over early Monday morning in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, police said. As the officers approached either side of the vehicle, Bostic shot Timoshenko in the face with a .45-caliber pistol and Ellis fired on Yan with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, police said.
Bostic and Ellis were held without bail at a court hearing Friday. Prosecutors said that both men had made incriminating statements about the shooting. They also said investigators had lifted Ellis's fingerprints off a Popeye's Chicken box that was found — along with the guns used in the shooting and a third firearm — in a bag ditched near the shooting scene.
But defense attorney Danielle Eaddy said Ellis was driving the car, not Woods, and insisted Ellis had not fired on the officer. The lawyer also accused police of assaulting her client after his arrest.
Police spokesman Paul Browne denied police had abused the prisoner and said forensic evidence supported charges that Woods was the driver. Wodds' attorney Patrick Michael Magaro has said there was nothing in the criminal complaint against his client to suggest Woods intended to harm the officers.
Attempts to reach defense attorneys were unsuccessful Saturday.