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The Killing of Russell Timoshenko

The New York Police Department is a law enforcement unit in the police of the United States which is entitled to keep law and order within New York City. The New York Police Department prides itself on being the largest and the oldest police department in the United States. The police department was established on May 23, 1845, by the Government of New York. The police department has its headquarters in New York City and is headed by Dermont Shea. Police officers play an integral role in the criminal justice system. They help enforce the law, provide security to the general public, arrest those who violate the law and prevent crime. Many times they have placed their lives on the line for the sake of what they swore to protect, and some have ended up dying in the line of duty. This paper discusses and celebrates the gallantry of Russell Timoshenko.

Rusell Timoshenko is celebrated today because of his gallantry and selflessness to the course and the ideals of the police force. Ruslan Timoshenko was born on August 18 1983, in Babruysk, Byelorussian, Soviet Union. The family moved out of Belarus to look for greener pastures, and that saw them settle in Fort Hamilton Park in 1993. Being new in the country, they struggled in terms of finance and the new language, but Rusell being strong-willed, was able to master the language and also saw him improve in his academics (Legewie, 2016). The family soon bought a house on Staten Island, where Rusell grew and thrived. He was able to do well in his academics, and this saw him enrol for an engineering course at the Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. Rusell later transferred from the polytechnic to study economics at the City College of New York. He surprised his parents Tatyana and Leonid Timoshenko, when he told them that he had enrolled in the New York Department academy, where he graduated in January 2006. His parents recall how their son wanted to repay the love the country had given them by being a cop and helping maintain peace and order. To Rusell Timoshenko, serving as a police officer in the New York Police Department was the greatest expression of one’s love for their country. Indeed, he paid the ultimate price for patriotism when he was killed in duty. Rusell Timoshenko died very young; he passed on at 23 on July 14, 2007 (White et al., 2019).

On a fateful day, July 9, 2007, Timoshenko and his partner officer, Heman Yan, while on patrol in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, he was shot twice. While on patrol, Timoshenko and his partner Yan saw a suspicious BMW sport-utility vehicle. They decided to run a license-plate check on a laptop computer which later showed that it belonged to another vehicle, a 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander (White et al., 2019). The police officers, out of curiosity, were forced to do a traffic stop on the vehicle along the corner of Lefferts and Rogers avenues to ascertain the real owners of the vehicle. Unbeknown to the police officers, the vehicle had been stolen. Timoshenko, who had sat at the passenger side of the police vehicle, approached the stolen vehicle on the rear side. In contrast, his fellow officer, Yan, approached the stolen vehicle on the driver’s side. As the officers drew closer to the car, one of the suspects, who happened to be Dexter Bostic, drew out a .45 calibre handgun and shot at the officers and in the process, Timoshenko was struck twice in the face, and one bullet advanced into his spine (Row, & O’Neill).

The other officer, Herman Yan, was also shot at by Robert Ellis using a 9mm handgun, but his bullet-resistant vest saved him though he had gunshot wounds in his arm and chest. Despite the injuries, officer Yan fired back at the suspects. He was also able to call for backup using his radio and use his location; he described to the other officers the vehicle that had the criminals (Row, & O’Neill). Officers within their locality investigating a homicide case arrived at the scene and took Timoshenko to Kings County Hospital, where he was to receive his treatment. The criminals who had done this heinous act ran away though they left behind the vehicle. The officers found a cache of loaded guns in the vehicle, including a .9mm Tec-9, 9mm handgun, and .45 calibre handgun. With the help of investigators, the fingerprints found on a box of chicken left behind by the suspects led to where Lee Woods was, who happened to the driver during the shooting, leading to his arrest (Row, & O’Neill).

In the kings County Hospital where Timoshenko was taken for treatment, he was in a terrible state because the bullet wounds inflicted by the suspects made him stop his heart from beating and breathing. The bullets penetrated through his spinal cord just below his brain, weakening the muscles and thus making it hard for him to breathe on his own or move his muscles (White et al., 2019). Lack of oxygen for close to 14 to 18 minutes led him to paralysis. He was placed on life support, and his parents that there was a very slim chance for Timoshenko to survive and if indeed he made it, he was poised to be paralyzed. On July 14, 2007, when the tests conducted on him came back that there was no brain activity going on in him, he was pronounced dead by the doctors as per the rules of New York City when the supporting machine was turned off (White et al., 2019).

The reason for the shooting by the three suspects was to avoid arrests because of their past criminal records. Dexter Bostic had earlier been imprisoned for nine years for robbery with violence and sodomy. He again served three years because of felony related charges, whereas Robert Ellis had earlier been imprisoned for theft, sodomy and rape (Page, 2012). The driver, Lee Woods, had been taken in earlier because of beating a police officer and possessing illegal weapons. The reasons for the shooting also had to do with Bostic being found past the few was contravening his parole terms, and he was going to serve another two years for that. Investigations by the officers unearthed that the three suspects had stolen the BMW from a car dealership where Bostic worked as a salesperson (Page, 2012).

The combined efforts of the New York Police Department and their counterpart from the Pennsylvania state police saw the suspects apprehended from their hideout in Monroe County, Pennsylvania (Page, 2012). The three suspects were arraigned in court and charged for the aggravated first-degree murder of Officer Rusell Timoshenko and also the attempted aggravated murder of Officer Herman Yan. In December 2008, Dexter Bostic was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole after he was found guilty of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and possession of illegal arms. Robert Ellis, on his part, was not found guilty of aggravated murder though he was found guilty of possessing illegal arms and thus slapped with a 15-year imprisonment sentence (Legewie, 2016). Lee Woods was also tried; however, his case took a bit long since the juror involved was ill, leading to a mistrial in 2008. In March 2009, Lee Woods was found guilty of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and possession of illegal arms, which saw him receive a life imprisonment sentence without any possibility of parole (Legewie, 2016).

Officer Rusell Timoshenko was mourned throughout the country, and more than 30,000 mourners came to bid him farewell during his funeral in Flatlands, Brooklyn. He was promoted to detective and given the New York Police Department Medal of Honor (White et al., 2019). His partner Herman Yan was also promoted to the detective first grade and awarded the New York Department Medal of Honor for their selfless service to New York and its citizens. The two officers were also named the officers of the year in New York. Also, the parents of Timoshenko received a law enforcement award named after James Brady, who was President Reagan’s assistant. Timoshenko was also awarded the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s “Finest of the Finest” award posthumously. In November 2009, Durant Avenue was changed to Rusell Timoshenko Way to recognize and cement the legacy of the young patriot. Furthermore, the Park’s Department also named a soccer field in Midland Beach after him (Legewie, 2016).

The murder of Timoshenko also had major ramifications on gun legislation, especially when it was noted that the guns used by the suspects were unlicensed from Virginia (Fiedler, 2011). The dealer of the guns was stripped of the license, and also the shop was closed to date. The gun laws and legislation were to be reviewed to avoid scenarios where gun dealers gave guns to criminal enterprises. The gruesome murder of Timoshenko necessitated changes in the gun laws and legislations in New York City. There were calls for tougher laws within the city, and those found in possession of illegal guns were to be sentenced to three and half years in prison (Fiedler, 2011).

In conclusion, many police officers in the New York Police Department and the country all over have paid the ultimate price by protecting our motherland. Their acts of gallantry and bravery should always be appreciated, and their blood should not go in vain but treasured. Some police officers who have died on the line of duty and not necessarily from being killed but rather because of accidents should also be remembered and their efforts rewarded. Rusell Timoshenko, a young patriot from Belarus, was killed by criminals though his blood never went in vain because his killers were behind bars; however, the gap he left in his family and the police department has never been filled. May his parents Tatyana and Leonid, find solace in God Almighty as Timoshenko’s soul rests in peace.


Fiedler, M. L. (2011). Officer safety and wellness: An overview of the issues. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Legewie, J. (2016). Racial profiling and use of force in police stops: How local events trigger periods of increased discrimination. American journal of sociology122(2), 379-424.

Page, O. D. M. (2012). Find a fallen officer. web-based database, available at: www. odmp. org/search (accessed August 25, 2012).

Row, P., & O’Neill, J. P. New York City Police Department. Population8, 2.

White, M. D., Dario, L. M., & Shjarback, J. A. (2019). Assessing dangerousness in policing: An analysis of officer deaths in the United States, 1970–2016. Criminology & Public Policy18(1), 11-35.


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