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Off-duty New York police officer shot in the head while sleeping in car between shifts

The officer was resting in his personal vehicle after working an eight-hour shift at a New Year's Eve event in Central Park, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.

A New York Police Department officer was shot in the head on New Year’s Day while sleeping in his car between shifts.

The officer had ended an eight-hour shift at a New Year's Eve event in Central Park at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said during a press conference later that day. He decided to rest in his personal vehicle parked in the lot of the 25th Precinct station house in Harlem before his following shift at 7 a.m. 

The officer awoke at about 6:15 a.m., realized his rear window was shattered and felt pain to the left side of his head, according to the commissioner.

The scene where a police officer was shot inside a car outside the 25th Precinct station house in Harlem, on Jan. 1, 2022, in New York.Theodore Parisienne / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

He left his vehicle and an on-duty sergeant outside saw blood coming from the officer’s head and immediately rendered aid. He and the sergeant found a deformed bullet in his car. 

The officer was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital where bullet fragments were removed from his wound. 

A representative from the hospital said at the press conference that the officer sustained a gunshot wound to the head. Because the bullet was deflected, the officer is expected to make a full recovery, the representative said, noting the bullet missed “vital structures” by millimeters. 

Police did not identify the officer, who was described as a seven-year veteran of the force and a father of two.

He was released from the hospital Sunday and greeted outside the hospital with applause from fellow officers.

Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams made it clear they will seek an arrest in the case. 

The police commissioner said there were no other 911 calls for gunfire in that area during the time of the shooting and no officers outside at the time heard gunshots. She said the bullet was fired from a significant distance away.

"It’s hard to tell who the intended target was, if any,” Sewell said. “There are no stray bullets. There was someone firing that weapon. I also do believe this incident underscores that there are far too many guns out there in the wrong hands.”

“This is a horrendous act that took place, to have a shooting of this magnitude while resting to go back to perform duties to protect our city," Adams, a retired police captain, said. "We must not only find the gun, but we must find the person who discharged the weapon."

The investigation is ongoing. Police said at the press conference they were searching the area for video footage and checking rooftops for ballistic evidence. 

A $10,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.