Thursday 29 September 2016

Heroic Irish policeman recovering after savage New York cleaver attack

Cathal McMahon and Luke Byrne

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

The scene of the attack in New York City Photo: AP
The scene of the attack in New York City Photo: AP
Police investigate the scene where a man was shot by police in New York City Credit: Reuters

An Irish detective with the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been released from hospital after being attacked with an 11-inch meat cleaver while off-duty.

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Father-of-three Brian O'Donnell, originally from Co Offaly, suffered a six-inch gash from his temple to his jaw when he attempted to tackle Akram Joudeh during the attack at 5pm on Wednesday.

He was hospitalised after the incident, but the NYPD confirmed that he was released yesterday. It is understood he has been left with a permanent scar as a result of the attack.

Det O'Donnell, in his 40s, has been living in the US since moving from Co Offaly in the early 1990s, and was involved in the rescue and recovery operation on September 11.

Joudeh from Queens, in New York City, was shot several times after attacking the Irish officer.

Joudeh, who has a long criminal history, was initially stopped by police near Penn Station, in the middle of Manhattan, as he tried to remove a wheel clamp from his illegally parked car.

Brian O’Donnell
Brian O’Donnell

Jimmy O'Neill, NYPD police chief, said Joudeh ran through the streets around a Macy's department store in the middle of rush hour. Officers joined in the pursuit and one uniformed sergeant deployed a stun gun to no effect.

Joudeh pulled out an 11-inch cleaver from his waistband and began running toward Sixth Avenue, officials said. Det O'Donnell attempted to intervene but was struck across the face.

Meat cleaver allegedly used in attack. Credit: NYPD
Meat cleaver allegedly used in attack. Credit: NYPD

The policeman, who lives in Long Island, was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was treated for two days.

Recently retired police chief Bill Bratton and Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, were among those to visit him while he was receiving treatment. Speaking before his release, an NYPD spokesman said Det O'Donnell was "doing pretty good".

Det O'Donnell's colleagues gathered outside Bellevue Hospital yesterday and gave him a thunderous round of applause as he was released. He was in a wheelchair as he left the facility, with the scar visible on his face.

Det O'Donnell thanked those who has gathered to show their gratitude. He has worked for the police force for 16 years and previously worked with the US navy.

Suspect Akram Joudeh Photo: AP and NYPD
Suspect Akram Joudeh Photo: AP and NYPD

A bystander, Jonathan Schneier, said when he left work to get coffee he saw a balding man holding a meat cleaver, surrounded by a small group of officers yelling at him to drop the knife. One officer had a Taser out. Others had handguns. "I give credit to the police officers. They gave him many opportunities," Mr Schneier said.

He said the man with the knife "did not look very stable".

The man turned and ran, Mr Schneier said. He ran one city block and then jumped on top of a NYPD car.

After Det O'Donnell was struck, three uniformed NYPD officers fired a total of 18 times at Joudeh, striking him several times. Two other officers were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from the encounter, although it was unclear how they were injured.

Joudeh was described as being in a critical but stable condition. He has 15 prior arrests, including one on August 27, after he was found carrying knives near a synagogue.

His last known address was in Queens, though police say he may have been living in his car.

The incident caused gridlock in central Manhattan, with streets shut and the FBI sending agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force to the scene as a precaution.

Irish Independent

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