On the seventh anniversary of the fatal shooting of two young auxiliary police officers on a South Village street, state Senator Brad Hoylman introduced legislation that would make the penalty for killing an auxiliary officer the same as that for killing a regular New York Police Department officer.
Nicholas Pekearo, 28, and Yevgeniy “Eugene” Marshalik, 19, were killed on March 14, 2007, while pursuing a crazed gunman who had just slain a pizza restaurant worker on W. Houston St. and was then fleeing on foot while firing wildly. Since the city’s auxiliary officers are unarmed, the two men were defenseless when the gunman, David Garvin, turned and shot them dead near the corner of Sullivan and Bleecker Sts. Garvin was killed minutes later in a shootout with N.Y.P.D. officers who’d rushed to the scene.
The deaths of Pekearo and Marshalik led to a landmark change in safety protocols for auxiliary police officers, who are all unpaid volunteers. Days after the tragic incident, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly asked the City Council to set aside money, for the first time, to provide funding to issue bulletproof vests to all auxiliaries. Before that, auxiliaries had to purchase their own protective vests.
However, from a legal standpoint, another key aspect of the fatal shooting went largely unnoticed for years. If Garvin had survived the incident and stood trial for killing Pekearo and Marshalik, he would not have been charged under New York State’s first-degree murder or manslaughter laws that apply to the killing of a police officer. Instead, the shooting of the auxiliary officers would have been treated the same as the shooting of a civilian.
“But auxiliary police officers deserve the same protections as police and peace officers, and their assailants should face the same penalties,” said Hoylman at a March 14 press conference outside the Sixth Precinct, on W. 10th St. “It’s crucial that we recognize these civic-minded individuals and the sacrifices they make, as well as the families who have suffered, and who are concerned about their well-being each day they’re out in the line of duty.”
Hoylman’s new bill, the Auxiliary Police Officers Yevgeniy Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo Memorial Act, would finally bring the legal penalty for killing an auxiliary officer in line with the penalty for killing a regular officer.
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