Off-duty cop shot while breaking up fight: NYPD

Off-duty cop shot while breaking up fight: NYPD
Photo courtesy Michael Bloomberg
By Rich Bockmann

An Ozone Park man who police say allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s South Jamaica home over the weekend and shot an off-duty cop who came to her aid was charged with assault and attempting to kill a police officer, the district attorney announced.

Jose Bernazard, 38, was in the hospital Wednesday recovering from a gunshot wound he received during the Father’s Day altercation with Officer Joseph Koch, who was shot in the hand during the struggle, DA Richard Brown’s office said.

Authorities said Bernazard’s former lover, Christina Rodriguez, had taken out a restraining order against him in early 2012 after he allegedly attacked her, and he is accused of going after her and her 10-year-old son Sunday evening.

“The defendant has been charged with having exhibited a total disregard for the judicial system and the law,” Brown said. “He is accused of twice assaulting his former girlfriend, ignoring a lawful mandate from the court to stay away from her, failing to appear in court to answer pending criminal charges and now with shooting a police officer attempting to effect his arrest.”

“Although the police officer was off-duty at the time, he adhered to his oath to serve and protect the public by immediately going to the aid of the woman allegedly being assaulted by the defendant,” Brown added. “During a brief struggle, however, the defendant is accused of grabbing the officer’s gun and firing a round, which struck the officer. Fortunately, the wound did not prove life-threatening and the officer was able to regain control of the situation.”

According to the police, Bernazard showed up at his ex’s home on South Road around 10 p.m. and, when she refused to let him in, he allegedly forced his way in through the front door and started attacking the woman and her young son.

Koch, assigned to Far Rockaway’s 101st Precinct, was at a nearby party and heard the boy screaming for help, police said.

Authorities said Koch had his police badge clipped to his waistband and identified himself as a cop when he went into the woman’s home.

Bernazard allegedly grabbed the officer’s gun and shot him in the hand, authorities said. He received a gunshot wound to his abdomen during the struggle.

All four were taken to the hospital. Police said Rodriguez suffered a cut to the head.

An arraignment date had not been scheduled as Bernazard was in the hospital, but the DA’s office said it had filed two sets of charges against him.

For allegedly shooting Koch, he was charged with attempted murder and menacing a police officer.

For the alleged attack on Rodriguez and her son, Bernazard was charged with burglary, assault, criminal contempt and endangering the welfare of a child, the DA said.

Brown said he faces up to 25 years to life if convicted.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.