A wall of blue erupted into cheers and applause as NYPD Police Officer Brett Boller was released from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on April 14, nine days after he was shot in the line of duty.
The 22-year-old rookie was on the job for just three months and was assigned to the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica when he and his partner, Officer Anthony Rock, responded to an altercation on board an MTA bus on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 5.
After a short foot chase, Boller got into a brief shoving match with 22-year-old Devin Spraggins, at Jamaica Avenue and 161st Street where Spraggins allegedly pulled out a handgun from his waistband and shot Boller in his right hip before running from the scene.
Following an intense 30-hour manhunt he was tracked down at a home in the Wakefield section of the Bronx and he was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force and NYPD detectives. Spraggins, who was a resident at the Housing Bridge shelter for the homeless on 93rd Avenue in Jamaica, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on April 7 on two counts of attempted murder in the first degree and faces 40 years to life in prison for each charge.
Nearly 100 cops from the 103rd Precinct attended the arraignment and came to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center a week later to cheer Boller as rode out in a wheelchair. Dr. William Nugent, the trauma surgeon that performed two of the three emergency surgeries on the wounded rookie cop, gave credit to his fellow officers who acted quickly and carried Boller to an NYPD vehicle and raced him to the hospital after the bullet shattered his right hip and pierced his femoral artery and femoral vein.
“You were able to get him to the operating room very quickly and we were able to repair the artery,” Nugent told the crowd. “There is now a pulse in his foot and his leg should make a meaningful recovery after could have lost his leg and his life and that’s a really big deal for the NYPD and for us. So, I just want to thank all of you.”
Boller went home to Hauppauge, Long Island, where he will continue his recovery and undergo rehabilitation on his injured hip. PBA President Pat Lynch told the crowd of officers that Boller, the son of an NYPD deputy inspector, would need continued support from his brothers and sisters in blue.
“Today we showed up to applaud for a police officer that had the strength to climb back from serious wounds. We come back to thank the staff of Jamaica hospital from day one and so today made sure he can roll out of his hospital and go home,” Lynch said. “But what we remind people is this many times when we come to a hospital and we find out thank God the police officer hasn’t passed. We forget that there’s still a long road, we forget that there’s a family that’s going to have to help them struggle. We forget that they leave this facility to go to a rehab facility. So let us not forget that because we still need your thoughts that help him move forward and get better.”
Boller wore a PBA jacket and a Mets cap with his badge hanging from a chain around his neck as his partner pushed his wheelchair through the phalanx of officers and hospital staff.
“Him and Officer Rock, they outperformed any expectation,” NYPD Deputy Inspector Eric Robinson, the commanding officer at the 103rd Precinct, said. “They were perfect, they were brilliant, and Officer Boller is alive because of their tactics, because of their efforts that day.”
With his parents by his side, Boller smiled and gave a thumbs up to his fellow officers as the skirl of bagpipes filled the air. He was placed gently into a van for the ride home.