Schumer appeals to AG for aux. cop benefits

Officers were killed in 2007
March 26, 2008 6:09:57 PM PDT
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced Wednesday that he has issued a direct appeal to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to overturn the denial of death benefits to two auxiliary police officers gunned down last year.Following an appeals hearing Wednesday, Schumer said he placed a phone call to Mukasey, asking him immediately award the families of officers Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo the due recognition and benefits as intended by Congress under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits program.

Schumer says the program, which entitles families of public safety officers over $300,000 in federal death benefits, clearly applies to both officers. The two were killed in the line of duty last March while attempting to apprehend a gunman in Greenwich Village.

On Monday, Schumer and Kelly criticized the department for erroneously denying benefits to both families last year.

"This should be a no brainer for the Justice Department and I am confident, once Attorney General Mukasey takes a look at the case, he'll agree," Schumer said. "Officers Marshalik and Pekearo were public safety officers in every sense when they protected dozens of New Yorkers from a deranged gunman."

The victims were killed on March 14, 2007, in a confrontation with gunman David Garvin, who was trying to escape after killing a bartender in a restaurant. Other officers then killed Garvin.

Marshalik, a 19-year-old college sophomore, and Pekearo, an aspiring writer who was 28, were members of the city's force of 4,500 part-time auxiliary officers, who provide extra uniformed police presence but do not carry weapons.

The pair were lauded as heroes for confronting the gunman, even though they were not required to put themselves at risk.

"The selfless acts of these officers, which I believe prevented many other deaths, are precisely the type of conduct that the [benefits program] is intended to compensate," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Both officers were in uniform, and had received extensive training related to their duties, including the NYPD's Basic Training Course, which spans 16 weeks and 54 hours of training program, and instructs officers on the use of a baton, handcuffs and a portable radio for communications.