U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has awarded a Troy police officer a Congressional Badge of Bravery for heroism in the line of duty. Thursday's ceremony was held at Hudson Valley Community College.
In late August 2015, officers responded to the scene of a reported carjacking. The suspect, 39-year-old Thaddeus Faison of Albany, exchanged gunfire with them. Police Chief John Tedesco: "Officer Chad Klein was the initial officer to respond and back up, and while still in his vehicle, he was shot in the shoulder by the suspect, through the driver's side window of his patrol vehicle. Officer Joshua Comitale, having witnessed the suspect firing at Officer Klein, returned fire at the suspect, striking him and causing him to fall. The suspect returned fire, and more than 20 rounds were exchanged between the suspect and Office Comitale. During this exchange of gunfire, Officer Comitale sustains wounds to both legs, which rendered him immobile. The suspect was also struck five times during this exchange, but continued to resist arrest. Additional responding officers were able to use a taser to incapacitate the suspect. The suspect ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Office Comitale was able to apply a tourniquet to his wounds before medical assistance arrived."
The incident marked the first time officers in the city had been shot in the line of duty in 40 years. Klein and Comitale were hospitalized. They are still recovering from their wounds. Tedesco continued: Subsequent toxicology tests on the suspect revealed an extraordinary high level of PCP in his blood system. The actions of Officer Comitale demonstrate extraordinary bravery and the willingness to save the lives of others without regard to his own personal safety."
Comatile's wife was pregnant at the time. His wife and child were present at the ceremony.
Schumer says the officer went "above and beyond the call of duty to prevent a horrible situation from getting even worse." "Fate may have chosen Officer Comitale to be in the position he was in that night. But his ability to respond with professionalism, skill, and without regard to his personal safety, commands our utmost respect, and deserves our highest praise. On behalf of a grateful city, state and nation, I thank you, Officer Comitale."
Schumer, now Senate Minority Leader, bestowed the Congressional Badge of Bravery upon Comitale and promised police officers across the state that he will fight any national attempts to cut law enforcement funding. Comitale is the first police officer in New York state to be honored with the federal award: "I couldn't believe it when I was told. Humbled beyond belief just looking at past recipients. Great honor."
The badge is one of just 15 awarded nationwide for acts of bravery during 2015.
“The actions taken by Officer Joshua Comitale on the night of August 22, 2015 is a testament to the professionalism, training and dedication of the Troy Police Department and represents the best of what our city has to offer. The Law Enforcement Badge of Bravery, which recognizes extraordinary acts of law enforcement officers, honors the service and sacrifice of Officer Comitale who put his own life on the line in the protection of our residents. On behalf of the city of Troy, I express our gratitude to Officer Comitale and all our law enforcement officers who daily put the safety and security of the community above their own,” said Mayor Patrick Madden.