By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Two police officers have been recognized for recent major arrests related to the death of a homeless man in Kips Bay.
Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, awarded the officers as Cops of the Month at a community council meeting on Tuesday, September 25.
Hellman said that police officers John McCormick and Mike Migliore were able to track down the suspects believed to be responsible for the death of the homeless man, who was reportedly beaten near Bellevue South Park at the end of August.
“(The officers) were able to make the arrests a few days later after going through the parks, doing surveillance and conducting interviews with people who were there,” Hellman said.
As Town & Village reported at the time, the two witnesses told police that they saw the two suspects, 42-year-old Joshua Sutherland and 58-year-old Ernesto Aparicio, kicking and punching the victim on the evening of August 30. According to the DA’s office, the victim died at Bellevue Hospital on September 1 and the two suspects were arrested in the days following the incident. Both have been charged with murder.
Additionally, Police Officers Tom Knudeson and Charlie Morro were also given a Cop of the Month award for their work in apprehending a man who was wanted for 15 burglaries at businesses. The cops were also responsible for tracking down a group of teenagers staying at the Administration for Children’s Services facility in Kips Bay who were wanted for robbery. The young suspects were brought into the precinct right before the meeting started.
Regarding the burglary arrests, Hellman said that the work Officers Knudeson and Morro do can be dangerous because suspects can be unpredictable and often violent.
“This perp had 29 priors, including violent robberies,” Hellman said. “He surrendered quietly this time but really anything can go wrong in these situations.”
The man who was arrested, 57-year-old Ricky Johnson, reportedly makes holes in the back of buildings to get in, Hellman said. Town & Village previously reported that Johnson could be seen on surveillance video removing money and electronics from various businesses in Chelsea in August. In a recent incident at the beginning of September, he allegedly broke a window and broke through a wall to get inside a nail salon on West 26th Street.
Hellman noted that it’s also rare for officers to be able to catch these suspects in the act and admitted that it was partially luck that the officers came across this particular suspect, but Special Operations Lieutenant Brian Scalise explained that his officers were also able to catch the suspect because they knew of nearby locations where he had broken into previously.
“We had a grid covering the area because he was hitting all these locations between 2 and 5 a.m.,” Scalise said. “(The officers) saw him shoot out of a building wearing a backpack and he told them he was coming from a bar but it was pretty clear he was lying.”
Scalise noted that Johnson was arrested without incident.
Hellman said that crime has been down slightly in the last month and added that he feels the new Neighborhood Policing program, which launched in the area earlier this week, will help those numbers stay down.
Hellman also noted that while grand larcenies have also decreased in the last month by about 12 percent, he said that they have increased 11 percent for the year and the ACS facility has been a “challenge” for the precinct.
“There have been a number of incidents with troubled youth from that facility,” he said. “But ACS has been cooperating with us and transparent (when issues arise).”