Officer Dies After Collapsing During Pursuit
Kevin Lee, a 10-year NYPD veteran from the Bronx, was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. at Lenox Hill Hospital, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who rushed to the hospital Friday night to meet with the officer's wife, parents and sister. It was not immediately clear what caused the officer to collapse.
"We just don't know whether it was an aneurysm or his heart or what it was," said Bloomberg, who added Lee was a tall, strapping guy who looked to be in great shape.
"All his life he wanted to be a police officer," Bloomberg said, adding that Lee took courses in high school to become a police officer and also attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Lee and two other cops were chasing three men who had just ripped off a laptop computer from Snappy Auctions.com, a Lexington Avenue shop at 86th Street that sells goods on eBay at about 6 p.m. Three officers started chasing the suspects and one of the officers went back to the store and was told by one of the clerks that a laptop was missing. Lee, already in pursuit of the suspects, grabbed one of them, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and then Lee collapsed.
Later on, police captured two of the suspects and charged them with grand larceny and resisting arrest. The charges could be upgraded, they said Friday night. "The charges depend on the result of the autopsy and the nature of the struggle," Kelly said.
Lee, who grew up on Staten Island, had been assigned to a borough-wide larceny team for two years. Prior to the chase, he and three other officers had been in that area, at Lexington Avenue and 86th Street, to watch for suspicious behavior.
"The incident underscores the tension and high pressure that officers on patrol face every minute. At any moment, danger can strike," Kelly said.
Bloomberg described Lee as "an outstanding officer" and "devoted to duty" who made more than 200 arrests. In addition to his wife, Lee has a 6-year-old son.
At a news conference Friday night, Bloomberg said, "They all said that this was a person who wanted to be a police officer, and he was so proud to be one of New York Finest. He relished the job every day.
"It's another one of those tragedies that no one can ever explain."
Earlier this month, a Brooklyn cop, Officer Francis Hennessy, 35, of the 70th Precinct, died of an aneurysm responding to a call of a man with a gun.