‘This is not going to be a city of violence,’ Mayor Adams says after off-duty NYPD officer shot in head in East Harlem

Hours after taking office, Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell were outside NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on Saturday afternoon responding to an off-duty officer being shot in the head in East Harlem. 

The full realization of the city Adams and Sewell inherited became apparent on their first day on the job Jan. 1 after a police officer was rushed to the medical facility on 525 East 68th St.

According to Commissioner Sewell, the off-duty cop was resting in his squad car within the grounds of the 25th Precinct on East 119th Street during the early hours of New Year’s Day after finishing his shift.

Being called back to work the next morning due to staffing issues — and with dormitories at capacity —the officer attempted to gain some sleep between watches but received a wakeup call at the behest of a bullet.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell discusses the incident with NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes showcasing the bullet fragments found. Screenshot via Twitter

“At about 6:15 a.m., the officer woke up and realized his rear window was shattered and that he felt pain to the left side of his head. He exited his vehicle to make his way into the precinct to get assistance and an on-duty sergeant who was outside of the building entrance observed blood coming from the officer’s head. He immediately rendered aid and an ambulance was called,” Sewell said.

The off-duty officer was swiftly whisked to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he underwent surgery, revealing a skull fracture. Thankfully, it was revealed that due to the distance the gun was fired and the bullet partly deflecting off of the glass, the officer did not receive the full impact. He is currently in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.

Police are still looking for the shooter, and a visibly angry Adams pledged not only that the NYPD would track down the gunman, but also that his administration would make a change to the city as a whole.

“We must not only find a gun, but we must find the person who discharged the weapon. And we must find those who believe they are going to destroy our city with gun and gang violence. That is not going to happen,” Adams said. “We must identify, arrest and make sure that he’s incarcerated and not out the next day.”

Both Adams and Sewell admitted that the police force is suffering a staffing issue due COVID-19 and “other things” but reiterated that gun violence, in his mind, has nothing to do with that problem. 

“We have a staffing issue from COVID and a host of other things that we must address. But that bullet was not discharged by a person that was dealing with staffing, it was discharged by a violent person,” he said. “This is not going to be a city of violence. And I’m going to be on the forefront with this commissioner and this department to make sure our city is not a violent city, and wherever we need to show up to send not only the substantive things, but the symbolic things that this city is returning from the violent past to a place it’s safe to raise our children and families.”

Both Adams and Sewell thanked the attending physicians for their aid. In addition, the pair were joined by Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, who say they will be working closely alongside going forward.

The investigation remains ongoing, and anyone with information about the shooting can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

Mayor Eric Adams addressed reporters outside the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens on Jan. 1, 2022.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell