The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

An officer was killed with his own gun. Police aren’t sure who pulled the trigger.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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It was just past midnight on Sunday when Brian Mulkeen and two of his colleagues patrolled a neighborhood in the northern Bronx, tasked with ferreting out gang activity.

The New York police officers brought their patrol car to a stop to question a man in an area known for violence, including recent shootings. The man sprinted away. The officers pursued him, and Mulkeen, joined by his partner, collided with the man.

“A violent struggle on the ground began,” NYPD Chief Terence Monahan said in a Sunday news conference.

In a vivid summary of body-camera footage, Mulkeen said that “he’s reaching for it, he’s reaching for it,” according to Monahan.

Then five gunshots pierced the night. Mulkeen, 33, was shot three times, Monahan said, and five responding officers fired at the suspect. The suspect was killed, the chief said, and Mulkeen was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Although the unidentified suspect’s .32-caliber revolver was recovered, the chief said it was Mulkeen’s service weapon that fired — suggesting that the suspect may have taken the officer’s gun and shot him with it.

“At this point, it does not appear that the perpetrator’s gun was the one that fired,” Monahan said. “Officer Mulkeen’s gun fired five times. At this point, we are not sure who fired Officer Mulkeen’s gun.”

A New York police officer was shot dead in the Bronx early on Sept. 29, the department said. Officers saluted as Brian Mulkeen was removed from the hospital. (Video: NYPD News via Storyful)

Mulkeen joined the force in 2013 and lived in Yorktown Heights with his girlfriend, who is also a police officer, Monahan said.

“There is absolutely no worse moment on our job than this. As we stand here this morning, a young man with a bright future who courageously patrolled some of New York City’s toughest streets has tragically lost his life,” Monahan said.

The 27-year-old suspect had been on probation for a narcotics-related arrest and had a criminal history that included a burglary conviction, the police chief said.

Dozens of officers lined up in the dark to give a final salute to Mulkeen, as police motorcycles and ambulances pulled away with flashing red and blue lights.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) hailed Mulkeen as a hero doing “a job that New Yorkers needed him to do.”

Mulkeen is the second officer to be killed on duty in New York this year. Detective Brian Simonsen was accidentally killed by another officer in February while responding to a report of armed robbery.

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