TERRORIST AMBUSH IN THE 73RD PRECINCT
Threats and acts of terrorism are not new to the men and women of the NYPD.
Cops who served during the decades of the 70s and 80s witnessed repeated attacks against police officers here in New York City. What made those attacks especially heinous was the fact that they were assassinations. These were not the usual acts of criminality that cops faced every time they went on patrol. The use of deadly force by criminals against the police is a fact of life. Violence is a part of the lives of those who choose police service. However, assassination attempts are not usually what most cops envision when they are sworn in as rookies.
The decade of the 1970s began with the machine-gun attack on two NYPD police officers who were assigned to guard the home of Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. Patrolman Thomas Curry and Patrolman Nicholas Binetti were parked in their radio car when they were hit with multiple shots
from what later was learned to be members of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). Officer Curry
has recently pass away of natural causes.
A few months later we saw the assassination of Patrolman Joseph Piangentini
and Patrolman Waverly Jones, 32nd Precinct. They were both shot in back of the head by members of the Black LIberation Army (BLA)
as they returned to the radio car after responding to an “unfounded” radio run.
A few months later, January 27, 1972, Patrolman Rocco Laurie
and Patrolman Gregory Foster, 9th Precinct, were assassinated in the same manner by members of the Black Liberation Army (BLA)
as they walked their posts on Avenue B and East 11th Street.
MEMORIAL TO FALLEN WARRIORS
On January 19, 1973, there was a violent hostage situation in the 90th Precinct in which Patrolman Stephen Gilroy, ESS8
was killed. The perps had robbed John and Al’s Sporting Goods Store and when a holdup alarm was tripped, the perps armed themselves with numerous rifles and shotguns and held hostages.
A few days later, here was another similar machine-gun attack on a radio car team in the 73rd Precinct that has not been given the recognition that it deserves.
Thursday, January 25, 1973, is a date that two brothers will never forget. Patrolman Carlo Imperato and Patrolman Vincent Imperato, 73rd Precinct,
were assigned to radio motor patrol. At about 7:45 PM, as they approached a red light, they observed a double parked vehicle occupied by what appeared to be a male and a female. As the radio car slowed,
Carlo, who was the operator of the RMP,
glanced to his left and saw a man with a long gun pointed at him. The perp fired multiple shots shattering the window of the radio car and wounded Carlo
in the shoulder. Vincent got off two shots with his revolver as Carlo
gunned the engine to get out of the line of fire. The perp continued to fire shots into the back of the police car. Vincent
was struck with shards of glass. Unknown to the officers, more shots hit the trunk of the RMP and destroyed the radio transmitter. They were unable to transmit a radio report of the incident due to the damaged transmitter in the trunk. They had not been issued portable radios in those years. As a result of this, none of the other sector cars in the
73rd Precinct or surrounding commands were aware of the attack. When the brothers sped to Brookdale Hospital, they then notified Central and the 73rd Precinct by landline of the attack. Both officers were admitted to Brookdale Hospital. When interviewed by the author, Carlo and Vincent still feel that the female that was inside the double parked car was possibly none other than Joanne Chesimard.
No arrrests have been made in connection with the ambush attack.
The time lapse between the attack and when the officers could call for assistance proved to be critical to any search for the suspects.
Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy with the 73rd Precinct radio car. Note that the entire rear window of the RMP is
shot out as well as the trunk of the car
Photo courtesy of New York Daily News
Daily News Article about the attack on the Imperato brothers
File Photo Courtesy New York Daily News
Photo courtesy of New York Daily News
Front photo of 73rd Precinct radio car. The large number of shots fired at the RMP would indicate
that an automatic weapon was used. Evidence regarding the calibre of the shells recovered at the scene of the ambush and their manufacture was not shared with the Imperato Brothers. The almost
continuous attacks on members of the NYPD and the ongoing investigations by the Major Case Squad required a tight control over such information.
LtoR: Ptl. Vincent Imperato and brother Ptl Carlo Imperato, 73rd Pct in Brookdale Hospital after the ambush attack
File Photo courtesy of New York Daily News
The years have been good to both Carlo and Vincent. I had the honor of serving with Vincent when he was transferred to the 123rd Precinct after the ambush attack. Today, both men reminisce
with their fellow cops at the NYC Verrazano 10-13 Association meetings.
LtoR: Carlo Imperato, Ed Reuss, Vincent Imperato all happily retired
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