Cop Assaulted in Riverside Park Was Also Attacked There Last Month

By Leslie Albrecht | October 31, 2011 7:58am | Updated on October 31, 2011 9:39am

UPPER WEST SIDE — An off-duty police officer allegedly assaulted on the Upper West Side last week was attacked in the same location last month, a source said.

The off-duty officer, whose name was not released, was attacked about 10:45 p.m. last Thursday near West 91st Street and Riverside Drive by a man who stole the officer's gun, police said.

Shots were fired during the scuffle, but the officer was not struck, police said. He sustained minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to St. Luke's Hospital.

The officer told investigators that he was leaving for work in The Bronx when he spotted a man slashing car tires near West 91st Street and Riverside Drive. The officer said the vandal pulled a gun on him and the two exchanged fire, a source said.

The police officer's stolen weapon was later recovered inside Riverside Park, police said.

The suspect remains at large and the attacker's gun was not recovered, a source said.

A month ago, the same police officer reported a similar attack, a source said. The officer said he was assaulted at 10:35 p.m. on Sept. 27 near West 91st Street and Riverside Drive.

The police officer told investigators he saw two men robbing a woman inside Riverside Park, a source said. When he confronted the robbers, one of the men allegedly struck him from behind with a blunt object, a source said.

Thursday's alleged attack set off an aggressive police response, with dozens of cops descending on the scene, neighbors said. A police helicopter flew over Riverside Park, shining a spotlight through its trees, and police set up lights inside the park.

Members of the NYPD's anti-terror Hercules unit, dressed in bulletproof helmets and vests and carrying automatic weapons, responded to the scene within minutes, a witness said.

"I thought they had found a terrorist," said a woman who gave her name as Marisa, who lives in a building that overlooks the scene of both attacks. "There were dozens of (police) cars."

Residents in the building gave differing accounts about how many shots they heard fired, the doorman said. Some said they heard two, some said seven, he said.

Residents discussing the attack on Twitter said they heard up to eight shots, the neighborhood blog West Side Rag reported.

Marisa said she slept through the shooting, and was awakened by a knock at her door at midnight. It was a police detective investigating the attack.

Police returned to the scene while it was still dark on Friday morning and shined a spotlight in Riverside Park.

"I thought it was a movie being filmed," said Michael Gillett, a doorman at a building across from 190 Riverside Drive.

He said the attack was a surprise on the quiet, high-end block.

"I've worked here 15 years and I've never heard of anything like that before," Gillett said.