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Photo courtesy of NYPD
Photo courtesy of NYPD
P.O. Joseph Koch

An Ozone Park man could spend more than six decades behind bars for shooting an off-duty police officer who responded to a domestic violence incident in Jamaica nearly three years ago.

Jose L. Bernazard, 42, a former resident of 88th Street in Ozone Park, received the lengthy sentence on Thursday for the Father’s Day 2013 shooting of Police Officer Joseph Koch, who was wounded in the left hand.

Following a 3 1/2 week trial, jurors convicted Bernazard on April 18 of this year of second-degree attempted murder, second- and third-degree assault, first-degree burglary, aggravated criminal contempt, criminal contempt, criminal obstruction of breathing, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and stalking. Judge Deborah Stevens Modica ordered Bernazard on May 19 to serve between 59 1/3 and 66 1/3 years in prison.

The trouble began at 10 p.m. on the night of June 16, 2013, when Bernazard visited the home of his ex-girlfriend, a resident of South Road in Jamaica. According to prosecutors, Bernazard climbed through an open window and began to assault the woman and her 10-year-old son.

Koch, off-duty at the time and attending a barbecue with family, heard screams coming from inside the home, law enforcement sources said. He displayed his shield on his waistband and went to confront Bernazard. This led to a physical struggle during which Bernazard grabbed Koch’s gun and fired several shots. One of the bullets hit Koch’s left hand, while another slug struck Bernazard in the stomach.

Officers from the 103rd Precinct and EMS units rushed to the scene. Koch, Bernazard, the woman and her son were brought to Jamaica Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Though everyone made a recovery, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown noted, Koch’s injuries forced him to retire from the force. For his valor while off-duty, Koch received honors from President Obama during a 2014 ceremony at the White House.

Upon further investigation, police learned that the woman had an order of protection preventing Bernazard from contacting her as a result of a repeated history of attacks. Brown said Bernazard assaulted his ex-girlfriend on three separate occasions prior to the June 16, 2013, incident.

“The defendant is a clear danger to the woman he had briefly dated, her son and to the general public,” Brown said in a statement on Thursday. “In this case, a lengthy prison term was more than warranted, and the defendant will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars.”


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