PHOTO: Hero cop Joseph Koch. Courtesy of NYPD
By Michael V. Cusenza
An Ozone Park man has been convicted of the Father’s Day 2013 attempted murder of an off-duty city police officer who had rushed to aid the man’s ex-girlfriend and her son – both of whom the defendant was violently assaulting, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Jose Bernazard, 42, was found guilty on Monday of second-degree attempted murder, second- and third-degree assault, first-degree attempted assault, first-degree burglary, aggravated criminal contempt, second-degree criminal contempt, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, second-degree criminal trespass, fourth-degree criminal mischief and first-degree stalking following a three-and-a-half week jury trial.
Bernazard has been held without bail since his hospital arraignment in June 2013. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 3.
According to trial testimony, Bernazard tried to get inside the South Jamaica residence of his former flame, Christina Rodriguez, at approximately 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 16, 2013. When Rodriguez, 34, refused to let him in, Bernazard then climbed through an open window and, once inside, he began to beat her and her 10-year-old son, Jacob.
Alerted to a woman screaming and Jacob hollering “He’s going to kill my mother!” off-duty Police Officer Joseph Koch, 28, who was at his own family’s barbecue that night on the same block, sprang into action. As he entered Rodriguez’s South Road home, Koch identified himself as an officer, had his NYPD shield in plain view clipped to his waistband, and his gun drawn. Bernazard immediately attacked Koch, grabbing the officer’s gun and firing a round, striking Koch in the left hand. Bernazard also suffered a gunshot wound in the struggle. The two men, and Chrissy Rodriguez and her son, were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and treated for their injuries.
The bullet from Koch’s 9mm Glock 26 ripped through his hand, shattering bones and requiring surgeries. The injury was so severe that it cut short his cop career.
Brown hailed the hero for his off-duty actions, adhering “to his oath to serve and protect the public by immediately going to [Rodriguez’s] aid.”
Bernazard was also convicted of stalking Rodriguez for 18 months, breaking into her home, violating an order of protection to stay away from her, and assaulting her on three prior occasions.
“By its verdict, the jury found that the defendant had exhibited a total disregard for the judicial system and the law by breaking into the home of his former girlfriend, assaulting her and her child, repeatedly ignoring a lawful mandate to stay away from her and with shooting a police officer attempting to effect his arrest,” Brown noted. “His actions clearly show that he is a threat to society and that a lengthy prison term is warranted.”
Bernazard is facing up to 50 years to life in prison.