One of the two police officers shot by a gunman while responding to a robbery call in the Bronx earlier this week was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, hours before the accused suspects in the case were arraigned in a Bronx court.
Wearing a blue jumpsuit and a grin, 38-year-old Aliro Pellerano was escorted outside in a wheelchair to a bagpipe salute and a sea of applause from his colleagues in blue. He shook hands with dozens of uniformed officers as he was wheeled out of the hospital. Then he stood up and walked on his own to a waiting police van as his fellow officers cheered once more.
PBA union president Pat Lynch, who's been embroiled in a battle with City Hall, joined the cheering crowd outside the hospital.
"Only weeks after two officers were assassinated, you can imagine what went through everyone's mind," he said. "It's a difficult time. But it's a time when family comes together."
Pellerano was shot in the abdomen and arm near East 184th Street and Tiebout Avenue in Fordham late Monday. The nine-year NYPD veteran with more than 500 arrests during his time on the force was at St. Barnabas Hospital for nearly three days before he was released around 2 p.m.
Officer Andrew Dossi, 30, was more seriously injured in the shooting; he was hit in the arm and lower back. The NYPD's chief surgeon said Wednesday that the eight-year NYPD veteran -- who has notched more than 125 arrests -- will need extensive physical therapy. It's not clear when or if he will be moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center for treatment.
Both officers were described in "excellent" spirits.
Pellerano's police sergeant, Angel Gonzalez, who was there when the officers were shot, was also among those cheering outside the hospital.
"I'm happy that he was able to walk on his own two feet and go home the next day," he said.
The two officers, who were in plain clothes and about to end their shifts, were part of a group of five cops responding to a call about a robbery at a deli on East 180th Street in the Bronx when they were shot outside a Chinese food restaurant not far from the robbery scene, Bratton said.
The suspects fled after the shooting, sparking a manhunt. The alleged gunman, Jason Polanco, was picked up in the Bronx Tuesday afternoon, hours after he was allegedly captured on a restaurant's surveillance video opening fire on the group of officers responding to the robbery call.
His alleged accomplice, Joshua Kemp, was struck in the bicep by a bullet Polanco allegedly fired through the window of the restaurant. The bullet went straight through Kemp, Bratton said, and hit one of the police officers. Polanco allegedly fired two more shots and one of the five officers responded, firing three shots back at the suspects. The suspects then fled and carjacked a vehicle.
Kemp was taken into custody after he went to a Manhattan hospital with a gunshot wound. The person who drove him to the hospital told police about the robbery and shooting, Bratton said.
They were arraigned Wednesday evening, Polanco on attempted murder, robbery, assault and weapons charges, and Kemp on robbery and burglary charges. They did not enter pleas.
Polanco was remanded without bail and is scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 12. Bail for Kemp has been set at $200,000, and he's also next scheduled to appear in court Jan. 12.
Their attorneys -- Marvin Raskin for Kemp, and Joel Peyster for Polanco -- had no comment Wednesday.
Polanco, who has three prior convictions on weapons charges, faces charges of attempted murder of a police officer, carjacking and commercial robbery. Kemp, who is on parole for robbery and has 10 prior convictions, according to authorities, faces charges of commercial robbery.
The city's top cop also said authorities are looking into whether Polanco and Kemp may be connected to a pattern of commercial robbery in the Bronx and northern Manhattan.
The officers were shot hours after the mayor and the police commissioner held a joint news conference to tout record low crime levels, with overall crime down 4 percent from last year. But shootings were up 13 percent, which NYPD officials admitted were "an area of concern."
Last month, NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed while sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn, fueling tension between police and City Hall. Police unions have blamed de Blasio for permitting protests over police conduct that has, in turn, fostered an anti-NYPD atmosphere they believe contributed to the killings of the officers. The family of the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, said he was emotionally disturbed and that the shootings had nothing to do with police retaliation.