Richard Perry/The New York Times
By AL BAKER and ANDY NEWMAN
Published: April 18, 2012
New York Police Department
He pulled the knife out, his wife later learned, not realizing then just how seriously injured he was.
By any odds, Officer Loor should have been killed or left brain-dead by the knife that entered his skull on Tuesday, after a confrontation with a 26-year-old ex-convict in East Harlem. At best, he could have lost the ability to speak, to talk to his pregnant wife or young daughter.
The head of neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Joshua B. Bederson, said Wednesday that none of that would come to pass.
“He is probably the luckiest unlucky man you could ever have,” Dr. Bederson said at a news conference in New York.
The folding knife’s three-inch blade passed half an inch below structures that control motor functions and another half-inch from structures that control vision. It touched the nerve that gives sensation to the face and nicked, but did not penetrate, a major artery, Dr. Bederson said.
“It was a millimeter from everything; it was ridiculous,” he said later in an interview. “You don’t want to overemphasize, but he was at death’s door. He was minutes away from crashing.”
Officer Loor’s wife, Dina Loor, sat beside the doctor at the news conference, a picture of unfailing calm and poise. She answered questions in English and Spanish as she spoke of her husband’s first words to her, and of how he never showed fear, much as she hid her concerns from their daughter.
Ms. Loor said her husband told her: “Babe, I’m fine. It just hurts.”
The news conference, which was also attended by the officer’s sister, was a vast departure from what typically follows a near-fatal attack on a police officer: Information is guarded, and loved ones seek privacy at a critical time. It also offered a welcome juxtaposition with the scene at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn this week, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg delivered the news that Lt. Richard A. Nappi of the Fire Department had died while fighting a blaze.
Throughout the news conference at Mount Sinai, it was made clear that Officer Loor, 28, was fortunate not to have met the same fate.
Officer Loor and his partner, Luckson Merisme, were responding to an emergency call by the mother of an emotionally disturbed man, Terrence Hale. The mother, Vearry Hale, had called 911 to say her son was bipolar and had stopped taking his medications. When the officers met her outside, she said her son was upstairs and needed to go to the hospital, the police said.
The officers strode into the Franklin Plaza Apartments, a housing complex at 1945 Third Avenue, near 107th Street. Mr. Hale exited an elevator in the lobby and walked past them as his mother asked him to go to the hospital, according to an account given by the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.
Mr. Hale responded, “I’ll go by myself,” and then walked out the door.
The officers caught up to him and said they would escort him there, the police said. It was then that he suddenly produced the knife and stabbed Officer Loor, they said.
By Wednesday evening, Mr. Hale had not been arraigned on charges that included attempted aggravated murder. He had been arrested in the past, the authorities have said, including for a knife attack in 2006, for which he served a term at Sing Sing.
In a brief telephone interview on Wednesday, his mother said she was angry because she had called for an ambulance to help him, and not for the police. She also accused the police of mishandling the situation and displaying a lack of training for a sensitive domestic encounter, and said she planned to contact a lawyer.