After over two weeks in critical condition, Suffolk County police officer Christopher Racioppo has been released from the hospital and returned home.
It was a joyful, crowded scene on Monday, April 26, as Racioppo was wheeled out of Stony Brook University Hospital. His exit was met with applause from well over 300 individuals, including his family, friends, first responders, county officials, hospital staff and others who surrounded him.
Racioppo was stabbed in the leg on April 10 in Patchogue by a drunk driver, Jonathan Nunez, who was attempting to evade arrest. That evening, Racioppo had tried to pull over Nunez, 25, but Nunez crashed into a 2004 Nissan sedan at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Brook Street prior to the stabbing. Reports said the knife severed Racioppo’s femoral artery, requiring emergency surgery.
Two good Samaritans, former United States Marine Guillermo Sandoval and retired NYPD officer Frank Recupero—both present at Monday’s ceremony—helped save Racioppo with a tourniquet as officers took Nunez into custody.
Prior to Racioppo’s release, county officials hosted a press conference outside of the hospital to discuss his recovery. Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone thanked the quick-thinking individuals at the scene and the committed care that Racioppo received at the hospital, for the officer’s speedy recovery.
“Just over two weeks after officer Racioppo engaged in his heroic actions, suffered a life-threatening attack and lost, essentially, all of his blood—the fact that we are here just over two weeks after that, and seeing him leave this hospital on the road to recovery is really nothing short of a miracle,” Bellone said.
James Vosswinkel, division of trauma, emergency surgery, and surgical critical care hospital chief, one of many doctors who cared for Racioppo, said the officer had lost a great deal of blood, experienced “severe shock,” and was placed on a ventilator for 10 days. While receiving treatment, Racioppo was supported by his fiancée, Brittany Cunningham, who serves as an ICU nurse at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Vosswinkel, also the SCPD’s chief consulting surgeon and medical director, said receiving notification of Racioppo’s state while the officer was at Long Island Community Hospital allowed him to mobilize resources at Stony Brook to appropriately address the officer’s critical injuries.
Suffolk County police commissioner Geraldine Hart said the incident serves as a reminder of the “dangers that law enforcement face every day.”
“We know that no shift is ever routine,” Hart said. “The reality of this situation is that while we are here for a happy occasion and a positive outcome, we could have been dealing with the loss of one of our own.”
Suffolk County Police Benevolent Agency president Noel DiGerolamo offered a similar sentiment, and said the “unwavering support” of county police has an impact on how officers conduct themselves while on duty.
Everyone who attended the ceremony was present for two reasons, DiGerolamo said: “They’re here to show their support for Chris, and let him know that his family will never let him down or forget what he has gone through… [and] they would do the same thing Chris did, in a split second, tomorrow.”
Racioppo did not participate in the press conference, but a trustee from the Fifth Precinct read a statement on his behalf.
“I am happy to be going home and begin the road to my long recovery. I am proud and will always be a proud SCPD and former NYPD police officer, and I will continue to serve my community after my recovery,” the statement read.