Supercops at 109th Precinct stopped Whitestone carjackers and suicidal man

Officers Richard Danese and Jared Delaney with Whitestone resident Carmine Camenzuli.
THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Councilman Paul Vallone and the 109th Precinct honored three police officers on Wednesday for their outstanding efforts in resolving a violent carjacking and a suicide attempt in two separate incidents.

Officers Richard Danese, Jared Delaney and Evangelos Galatas were named the “Cops of the Month” at the precinct, which covers northeast Queens neighborhoods including Whitestone, College Point and Flushing.

Officers Danese and Delaney were recognized for their roles in apprehending a violent pair involved in a January crime rampage that included the theft of two vehicles, two separate car accidents and an assault of an elderly man in Whitestone.

Police began searching for the suspects — later identified as Jamel White, 30, and Quiana Hodges, 17 — after they fled a car accident in the 109th Precinct in December. During a preliminary investigation of this incident, it was discovered that the pair were driving a vehicle they had stolen in Brooklyn after beating up its rightful owner.

Although a massive search for the couple soon followed, they were able to slip away from officers by stealing another car in a violent assault that left an 84-year-old Whitestone man hospitalized.

White and Hodges were apprehended in Brooklyn by Police Officers Danese and Delaney several days later after leading the officers in a car chase that resulted in them crashing into both a parked car and a police vehicle.

Their elderly victim, a Willets Point Boulevard resident, has since recovered.

Officer Evangelos Galatas with 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Thomas Conforti.
Officer Evangelos Galatas with 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Thomas Conforti.

Police Officer Evangelos Galatas was also recognized for his role in responding to a burglary that escalated into a suicide attempt in Whitestone shortly after Christmas Day.

The drama unfolded after a man violated an order of protection granted to his estranged wife to break into his former residence to steal back his own property, according to Conforti.

A neighbor called 911, and the 109th Precinct responded. He refused to leave the residence when police arrived on the scene, instead beginning a standoff with first responders.

The situation escalated when the man climbed to the roof of the building during the forced entry of an emergency services unit and threatened to take his own life by jumping if police did not leave.

Police negotiators were unable to reason with him as the man only spoke Greek, and Galatas — a street patrol officer with a native grasp of the language — was called in as the only one able to communicate with the individual.

According to Conforti, Galatas stood for 4 1/2 hours in freezing rain to convince the man to surrender. Although a crowd of neighbors had gathered around the scene to watch the spectacle created during this time, no one was hurt.

Conforti said that Galatas performed extraordinarily well despite not having the specialized psychology training usually used by the NYPD in high-stakes negotiations.

“You have a regular officer who was a patrol officer on a daily basis and he gets put into this situation,” Conforti said, “and I can say he stepped up to the plate on this one and he hit a homerun.”