A Flanders man was awarded the New York Police Department’s Medal of Valor, the third highest award given by the NYPD.
Peter Cybulski, 27, a 2009 Riverhead High School graduate, was one of 15 NYPD officers awarded the Medal of Valor in the department’s 2019 Medal Day Ceremony held at One Police Plaza. Overall, 88 officers received awards.
The Medal of Valor “is granted for acts of outstanding personal bravery performed in the line of duty and at imminent personal hazard to life, under circumstances evincing disregard for personal consequence,” according to the NYPD.
The award was give for Officer Cybulski’s role in a July 20, 2016 incident, according to Det. Sophia Mason, an NYPD spokesperson.
In that case, Officer Cybulski and his partner, Sgt. Hameed Armani (now a lieutenant), were on patrol in Times Square when a man tossed a device they believed to be an explosive into a marked NYPD van the two officers were sitting in.
As the suspect fled the scene, the two officers drove the van out of the busy Times Square area to limit the harm to pedestrians, according to police.
In doing so, they put their own lives in danger, had the device been an actual explosive.
Fortunately, the device was not explosive, and the suspect was later apprehended in Columbus Circle, following a standoff with police in which the man claimed to have explosives there as well.
Both Officer Cybulski and Lt. Armani were presented with Medal of Valor awards Tuesday.
“We knew what each other was thinking,” Officer Cybulski said at a press conference the day after the incident. “We weren’t going to let anything happen in Times Square.”
Mr. Cybulski, who has been on the force since 2013, also was awarded Suffolk County’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, in October of 2016 for that same incident.
He said at the time that he immediately thought the device thrown into his police vehicle was a bomb and would cause mass casualties if it went off in Times Square.
“There were thousands of people around,” he said at the time. “People were just getting out of shows…we just thought, ‘We need to save these people’s lives.”
Officer Cybulski also was in the middle of another incident in Times Square on May 18, 2017 when he was one of the first responders after a Bronx man drove his car into pedestrians in Times Square, killing one person and injuring 22. He tended to the victims at the scene and assisted other emergency service workers.
“It was hard to see, but that’s the hardest part about being a first responder,” he told the News-Review at the time. “You have to hold your emotions in. You can’t let it take control of you.”