But they embraced, knowing he would survive.
Blocks away, it was a different scene.
Detectives consoled the fiancé of another man, Dwayne Oxley, who they say grabbed that officer's gun.
But his outcome was much different.
"They may have pulled up to that car just to see if the guy was OK. Then the struggle emerged," said Lt. Kevin Smith, Nassau County Police.
It started innocently enough before dawn in this then-deserted East Meadow shopping center.
Surveillance video shows the first officer pulling up to an SUV with one man inside.
He stepped out of the car.
But when a second cop arrived to provide backup, Oxley jumped back into the car and locked the doors.
"The officers managed to get the door open and a struggle ensued getting him out of the car, and that time that struggle continued to ensue with the officer's gun now being involved," Smith said.
Police say Oxley pulled the gun from the holster of one of the officers, who struggled to get it back.
But it went off hitting him in the leg.
His partner opened fire on the suspect, hitting him two or three times and killing him.
Detectives spent the day searching for clues into why the man went for that gun.
The bullet hit the officer's left thighbone.
He spent the morning in surgery, where doctors placed a rod in his leg.
Meanwhile, police cleared the scene and life returned to normal in this shopping center.
Pizzeria manager Peter Bruce says he couldn't believe his eyes when he arrived at work.
"It's the holidays and we're supposed to be all happy and cheering and there's a New Year. And I come to work and there's a dead guy in front of my building," Bruce said.
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