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‘Hero Law’ Applies to Stewart Case

In an ironic twist of fate, cops have determined that the first person to be charged under the new Hero Law statute played a small role in the slaying of Police Officer Dillon Stewart, whose tragic death led to the creation of the new legislation in the first place. Police said that Damien Henry, 24, of the 760 block of East 49th Street, was arraigned Tuesday in his hospital bed, charged with two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of menacing. Henry, who was arrested for the 2002 shooting of a rookie police officer in the arm at the corner of St. Paul’s Place and Church Avenue over a year ago, but was later acquitted and was out on $50,000 bail for opening fire on an East Flatbush restaurateur last summer, traded shots with police following a failed attempt to rob the Ragtop nightclub at 1308 Utica Avenue. According to police and published reports, the 24-year-old and an unknown accomplice showed up at the bar with an Uzi at 4:30 a.m. on January 21. Workers at the nightclub managed to throw down the security gates before he could enter and called police. Plain clothes cops from the 67th Precinct arrived quickly, identified themselves as police officers with their guns raised. Henry, police said, ran away, firing at the officers from over his shoulder as he made his escape. Cops returned fire, striking Henry multiple times in the leg, torso and groin in front of 1263 Utica Avenue officials said. Henry was rushed to Kings County Hospital where he was listed in stable condition. By Tuesday, he was still in the intensive care unit. No cops were injured during the exchange of gunfire. Police recovered a fully loaded 9-mm Uzi machine pistol equipped with a collapsible stock. Investigators are currently trying to track down just where Henry obtained the gun. Police are also investigating that shell casings at the shooting in August matched those found in the shooting of Police Officer Stewart, who was gunned down by 27-year-old Allan Cameron last November. Cops also determined that Cameron was on the lam for shooting an off-duty cop during a robbery in Crown Heights. The officer managed to get away with his life. Cameron is currently sitting in a jail cell, charged with murder in the first degree. Police believe that Henry had the gun before giving it to Cameron. Following public outcry and sobering statistics which show that more police officers were shot in New York this year than any year since 1997, Governor George Pataki called for the Assembly and Senate to get together and take a stand. The end result was stricter penalties against gun traffickers and those who shoot police officers. Under the new law, those arrested for the murder of a police officer are guaranteed life without parole. The previous law stipulates that the defendant received a minimum of 20 years unless the sentencing judge says otherwise. Penalties were also increased for the crime of attempted murder of a police officer, which Henry is charged with. When once one could face only 15 to 25 years, the new law will demand a sentence of 20 to 40 years, officials said.

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