Benefits awarded to slain aux. cops

Officers were killed in 2007
April 24, 2008 8:36:46 PM PDT
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has overturned its original decision and officially approved federal death benefits for the families of auxiliary police officers Nicholas Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik.The benefits will be given to the officers' families under the Public Safety Officers Benefits program, which entitles families of public safety officers to more than $300,000.

Officers Pekearo and Marshalik were both killed in the line of duty last year in Greenwich Village, while trying to apprehend a man who had shot a bartender at a restaurant in the area.

The benefits claim was originally rejected under the contention that auxiliary officers did not qualify for the program.

The Department of Justice reversed its decision following direct appeals from Schumer and police commissioner Ray Kelly to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who also wrote to and called Mukasey on the families' behalf, issued the following statement:

"NYPD Auxiliary Police Officers Yevgeniy Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo were two brave men who sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of others. In the wake of their tragic murders, the City of New York did the just and honorable thing by awarding them the death benefits available to police officers under New York City Law. As members of New York's Finest, Officers Marshalik and Pekearo should, without question, also have been covered by the Public Safety Officers Benefits Act. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I applaud the United States Department of Justice for rewarding the courageous, selfless acts performed by these two men to the full extent that Congress intended and thank Senator Schumer and Commissioner Kelly for making the case for these officers so effectively."

The officers 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.