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Queens cops among police union’s ‘Finest of the Finest’

New York City Department of Health

A Rockaway officer who gave his life rescuing fire victims in Brooklyn and two cops who stopped a hatchet-wielding attacker in Jamaica were among those saluted for bravery during the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s (PBA) Finest of the Finest award ceremony Thursday afternoon in Manhattan.

The PBA presented posthumous honors to the family of P.O. Dennis Guerra, a resident of Bayswater who died while attempting to make a rescue during an April 2014 arson fire at a Coney Island apartment house. Guerra’s partner, P.O. Rosa Rodriguez, accepted the award on his behalf.

“We are deeply saddened that Police Officer Dennis Guerra did not live to receive this honor in person but we are honored to have his family here today on his behalf,” said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch. “Those being honored today intervened in deadly crimes, saved the lives of adults and babies and put themselves in deadly situations to keep others safe.”

Police Officers Taylor Kraft and Peter Rivera of the 103rd Precinct were also recognized for stopping a lone-wolf terrorist who attacked fellow Police Officers Kenneth Healey and Joseph Meeker with a hatchet in Jamaica last October.

The four officers were posing for a photographer on Jamaica Avenue on the afternoon of Oct. 23, 2014, when the assailant — Zale Thompson, who was later found to have terrorist ties — approached the officers while carrying a hatchet. Thompson struck Healey in the head, causing critical injuries, and Meeker in the arm.

Kraft and Rivera drew their firearms and fired 11 shots, killing Thompson. Healey and Meeker, both of whom survived their injuries, will also be honored at the PBA event.

Other officers honored at the PBA ceremony on Thursday include the following:

  • P.O. Joseph Esposito of the 114th Precinct, who confronted a suicidal, shotgun-wielding murder suspect — Jack Calvello, 86 — who killed his daughter at their Astoria home in April 2014. Esposito fatally shot Calvello after the suspect pointed the weapon at officers and refused to drop it.
  • Police Officers William Neville and David Hudson of the 101st Precinct, who stopped a gun-toting criminal who pointed his weapon at officers during a pursuit inside a Rockaway apartment building.

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