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Wounded officer on the mend

November 7th, 2012

Eric Henderson, the City of Newburgh police officer stabbed in the neck while attempting to break up a fight at the Dry Dock bar at 90 Broadway early Saturday, has been released from the hospital and is recovering from his injuries, police said Monday.

Henderson was also stabbed several times in the back and arm but escaped more serious injury thanks to the protective vest he was wearing. According to a police union spokesman, Henderson’s stab wound to the neck just missed his jugular vein by a quarter of an inch.

The man identified as Henderson’s attacker, Larry Gantt, 35, of Poughkeepsie, was arrested by other officers immediately after the incident, Police Chief Michael Ferrara said Monday. Ferrara said that Gantt has an extensive criminal history and was on parole supervision at the time of the stabbing.

Gantt was taken to the St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital emergency room for treatment of a stab wound sustained during a fight that Officer Henderson was attempting to break up when the officer was stabbed. As of Monday, Gantt was at Westchester Medical Center under heavy police guard. Arrangements were being made to arraign him at the hospital for first-degree attempted murder and two counts of first-degree assault. The assault charges are for the assault of Officer Henderson and the assault on the individual officers who observed him fighting upon their arrival. Additional charges are likely during the grand jury process, Ferrara said in a press release.

The person with whom Gantt was allegedly fighting has been identified as Adrian Hargrove, 22, of the City of Newburgh. Hargrove was initially treated at St. Luke’s Hospital, then transferred to Westchester Medical Center where he was reported in critical but stable condition.

Two others were stabbed during the altercation at the Dry Dock. They were identified as Justin Barnwell, 26, of Newburgh and Demetrious Ware, 28, of Newburgh. Barnwell was treated at St. Luke’s and at Westchester Med, then released. Ware was treated and released at the Cornwall campus of St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital. Ware was arrested and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon for unlawfully using a bottle as a weapon and for disorderly conduct based on observations by police officers at the scene of the fight. Ware is also under parole supervision. He is in custody at Orange County Jail.

Henderson is one of two police officers cleared in the March 7 shooting death of Michael Lembhard. During the investigation following the Lembhard shooting, Henderson and Officer Nicholas Cardinale were placed on paid leave, then reinstated to desk duty in July before being returned to patrol.

On Sunday, Teamsters Union Local 445 Principal Officer Adrian Huff said the stabbing should serve as a wakeup call to the community that the police force is severely understaffed.

“There were only four officers on duty that night, each in a separate police car patrolling four separate zones within the city,” Huff said. “With nearly 30,000 residents living in a virtual crime war zone, four officers on patrol is insane and reprehensible.

“The City Council is useless and is drowning in politics as usual. We call on the county and state to become more involved in helping the city finance the police force it needs,” Huff said.

“We need help, and we need to get creative,” he said.

“The doctors have told us that had the neck wound gone less than an eighth of an inch closer, it would have hit the jugular vein and probably resulted in the death of the officer.”

Huff said that had there been more officers responding to a fight involving “more than 100 people,” he didn’t believe officers would have been as endangered.

“What do you think would have happened if we had received another call from the other side of the city of a home invasion or a baby that stopped breathing?” Huff said.

“The understaffing of the city’s police department endangers our officers, and our city residents.”

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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