He was just 33, but he had been risking his life for seven years as a member of the world’s greatest police force. While most of the city was asleep, he was on anti-gang patrol in the earliest morning hours Sunday at the Edenwald Houses in the Bronx: the type of duty that constitutes the oft-unnoticed, indispensable work that has made New York the nation’s safest large city these past two decades.
Now that city mourns the line-of-duty loss of Officer Brian Mulkeen, a servant and a hero.
In the midst of that patrol, Mulkeen and two other officers stopped a man for questioning. The man fled. Mulkeen pursued. A struggle ensued.
On body-camera video, Mulkeen can be heard yelling several times that the suspect, a 27-year-old man, was “reaching for it.” It was a weapon, a .32-caliber revolver in his waistband. Mulkeen was shot three times, apparently with his own weapon; much remains to be determined.
This is the nature of police work, even in the far, far less lethal city the NYPD has helped build. Any given interaction can turn violent. Any given interaction can turn deadly.
But engaging with those who may present those threats is not optional for Brian Mulkeen and his brothers and sisters in blue. It is the job we demand they do.
The loss, which has taken a son and a brother from his family, which has taken a beloved boyfriend from the NYPD officer who was Mulkeen’s girlfriend, comes at a trying time for the department. Morale is low. A rash of officer suicides have precinct houses reeling. Interactions with City Hall are raw.
For now, it is every New Yorker’s duty to mourn a young man who dedicated his career to protecting us. To comfort his family, his loved ones and his comrades. To thank God for giving us Brian Mulkeen.