PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A suspect is under arrest for the stabbing of a uniformed police officer following a crash in Patchogue, Suffolk County Police said Sunday.
Jonathan Nunez was allegedly driving erratically and without headlights on when Officer Christopher Racioppo spotted his car on South Ocean Avenue around 10:40 p.m. Saturday.
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According to police, Nunez crashed his 1999 Mercedes Benz into a Nissan at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Brook Street after the officer tried to pull him over, flipping his vehicle on its side.
Nunez, 25, reportedly got out of his car, ignored Racioppo’s instructions and got into a physical altercation with the officer in a homeowner’s yard near the crash.
Nunez stabbed Racioppo in the leg during the altercation, police said.
Over his radio, Suffolk County Police Officer Taylor Herbst heard the words, “He’s been stabbed and he was losing consciousness.”
“You don’t know what to think, you just… You just zone out,” Herbst told CBS2’s Cory James in an exclusive interview.
But he was laser-focused as he raced over to help his law enforcement brother.
“How fast did you get to him after hearing that?” James asked.
“Within a minute,” Herbst said.
He found Racioppo, a three-year veteran, lying on the ground behind a home at the scene.
“I pull up on scene … I have my flashlight on. I’m trying to find out, I’m asking him, trying to get his consciousness,” Herbst said. “There was a lot of pooling blood around his left leg, and I knew at this point it was definitely, probably his femoral artery or another vein that was inside, so I had to get a tourniquet on as fast as possible.”
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Guillermo Sandoval heard the noise and stepped outside.
“I looked outside my upstairs windows and I saw the car,” he said.
Once he realized an officer needed help, the former Marine jumped into action.
“I ran upstairs, grabbed a belt, came back down,” he said.
“I said, ‘Just give it to me, I’ll take whatever I can.’ I just put the other belt on top of him and just tightened it up even more,” Herbst said.
Racioppo was moved to Stony Brook University Hospital for emergency surgery to repair a ruptured artery and was listed in critical condition.
“The knife went in about three inches into the leg. It did major damage to a vein,” Louis Civello, second vice president of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, said. “He lost almost a full body volume of his blood. They had to replace almost every drop of blood in his body at this point. The doctors, the surgeons up there … had remarked what a miracle it was that he’s even still alive.”
Authorities say a retired NYPD officer also helped, holding down Nunez for officers. He was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and DWI.
Luis Tayupanda, the driver of the second car, was taken to the hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Racioppo is now on the road to recovery.
Herbst is thankful for the EMT training in the academy and people nearby that he says helped save the life of his brother in blue.
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“You never realize how you’re actually going to need it … and it just happens and your training clicks in and you just have to do what you have to do,” he said. “Everybody who was involved in this, it was a vital operation. It wasn’t just me, it was everybody.”