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Police Tracked Officer's Killer Hours Before Shooting, NYPD Says

By Katie Honan | July 6, 2017 5:30pm | Updated on July 7, 2017 7:27am
 Alexander Bonds fatally shot 12-year NYPD veteran Miosotis Familia as she sat in an NYPD command vehicle in Fordham, police said.
Alexander Bonds fatally shot 12-year NYPD veteran Miosotis Familia as she sat in an NYPD command vehicle in Fordham, police said.
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Department of Corrections and DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

THE BRONX — More than two hours before he assassinated Police Officer Miosotis Familia, the girlfriend of Alexander Bonds called police out of concern for his safety — saying he was acting erratic and paranoid, officials said.

But not knowing he was armed, she feared he would only harm himself, according to Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, who discussed Bonds' movement leading up to the murder of Familia with a single shot to the head as she sat inside a mobile command unit, a police RV, early Wednesday.

"She specifically said he was unarmed and acting a little off, but he was harmless," the chief said after the swearing-in of new officers at the Police Academy in Queens.

The ex-con — who was released from prison in 2013 after serving nine years for a gunpoint robbery in Syracuse — was found to be compliant during a visit from his parole officer on the morning of June 16. 

But his girlfriend brought him to St. Barnabas Hospital for psychiatric treatment on July 1 as his mental health deteriorated. Boyce said it was not immediately clear how long he was hospitalized.

"He began acting erratically in the last two weeks or so, he was paranoid that police was following and he felt EMS was also following him," he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday called for the state's Department of Health and Office of Mental Health to investigate the hospital's "actions and policies in admitting, treating and discharging this individual." 

"This review will determine if all relevant state laws, regulations and guidelines were followed," he wrote in a statement.

But a spokesman for the hospital said Bonds was in their emergency room for approximately 8 hours, and that they followed proper protocol.

"We believe all mental health procedures and safeguards were properly followed in the hospital's evaluation of Mr. Bonds during the 7 to 8-hour period he was observed in our emergency room on July 1," hospital spokesman Steve Clark wrote in a statement.

"The usual protocol is for a patient who is brought to the emergency department with apparent psych issues to be seen first by an emergency room physician and then by a psychiatrist for observation. Next steps are then decided based on this observation. I can't get into any specifics for Alexander Bonds because of HIPAA regulations."

Investigators later found bottles of anti-depressants and anti-psychosis medications, along with six cellphones inside Bonds' apartment — and are piecing together his motives, and movements, before he killed Familia. 

At 10 p.m. on July 4, he left his apartment, prompting his girlfriend to call 911 about his erratic behavior. 

She stayed on the phone with a 911 operator as police and EMS officials followed him along Westchester Avenue in the Bronx from 10 until 10:30 p.m. that night, Boyce said.

But Bonds kept hiding during the slow chase, his paranoid fears apparently now realized. 

Emergency officials lost him along Trinity and Westchester avenues, a little more than a mile from where Familia was sitting inside the mobile unit with her partner.

Bonds shot at her as she sat near the corner of Morris Avenue and East 183rd Street at 12:30 a.m., according to police. 

He then fired at responding officers, including Familia's partners, in a brief foot chase, the NYPD said. He was shot and killed by police. 

The .38 caliber silver handgun he used was stolen from Charleston, West Virginia, in 2012, but it's unclear how long Bonds had it. 

Familia is the first female officer to die in the line of duty since Sept. 11. Her murder left the department rattled after a Fourth of July keeping millions of residents safe, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.

"Everybody's suffering," he said. 

He addressed the murder in front of more than 520 new recruits sworn in on Thursday.

Pain and grief of days like yesterday can push you down "to a point where you're not sure if you can get back up. But you will get back up," he said. 

"You'll get back up because the work of PO Miosotis isn't finished. You'll get back up because it's our job to finish it."

The NYPD is in the process of adding bullet-proof glass to 3,800 department vehicles, completing 500 more over the next 10 days, officials said. 

This will hopefully make it safer for all officers, despite the "inherent risk" in working with the NYPD, the commissioner said. 

"Just make no mistake about it. Officer Familia is dead because of one reason and one reason only - that's Alexander Bonds and his hatred of police," O'Neill said.