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Fallen officer Jonathan Diller ‘blessed’ New York stabbing victim’s life, grandmother says

Before Det. Jonathan Diller was fatally shot in the line of duty late last month while patrolling the streets of eastern Queens with the NYPD’s Community Response Team. He would respond to numerous calls over the course of his career that resulted in department accolades, including one that saved the life of a young stabbing victim.

On August 23, 2022, Diller and his partner rushed to visit Guy R. Brewer Blvd. near Farmers Blvd. in Springfield Gardens for reports of a stabbing. Police arrived on the scene and found a 25-year-old man bleeding profusely in a deli, where the victim had stumbled and collapsed.

Diller staunched the wound until medics arrived and rushed the man to a local hospital. The man survived his injuries, which police sources say were due to Diller’s quick-thinking, life-saving efforts. The move earned Diller recognition for “meritorious police duties” – one of four awards the 31-year-old officer would receive during his career.

When she learned that the same officer who saved her grandson was the same one who was fatally shot in March, it came as a shock to the victim’s grandmother.

“I didn’t even know that. That cop?” Lavern Flemings told the Daily News on Thursday. “He’s the one who saved my grandson? Oh my God.”

A photo of slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller is pictured outside his wake on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Massapequa, Long Island.  (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)
A photo of slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller is pictured outside his wake on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Massapequa, Long Island. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

She said her grandson is “blessed.” Diller and his partner answered the call, but don’t believe he was aware that the slain officer was the one who saved him.

“He made sure he didn’t bleed. I’m shocked,” said Fleming, 67. “I didn’t even know that. I wonder if he knows that! I don’t think he does that (because) if he did, he would have talked about that.

Fleming said her grandson has since spoken out about the stabbing.

“He was crying at one point and he was going through a lot when that happened and he thought he was unlucky, trying to get his life back on track and things like that,” Fleming said of her grandson. “(He) never talked about it: a cop saved my life.

“He probably doesn’t remember,” she added. “I think when you’re in so much pain, you don’t really try to see who’s doing anything for you.”

(Stephanie Diller, wife of Jonathan Diller, seen center with their 1-year-old son Ryan) Funeral services for slain 31-year-old NYPD officer Jonathan Diller at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa, Long Island, on Saturday March 30, 2024 0744. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)
Stephanie Diller, wife of NYPD officer Jonathan Diller, is pictured with their son Ryan during the funeral service for the slain officer at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa, Long Island, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

During his short career, Diller received three more awards for “outstanding police duties,” including for an arrest in a burglary committed by a squatter who had enticed a woman with dementia to live in her basement.

Stanley Sarauw, 71, has lived in his Springfield Gardens home for eight years. He previously lived in the house with his ex-wife, who he believes was scammed by a man looking for a place to live.

“He made her sign something,” Sarauw said. “He gave her some kind of paper to sign and he signed the house over to him, and he was able to go get a deed in his name.”

Funeral services for slain 31-year-old NYPD officer Jonathan Diller at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa, Long Island, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. 0744. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)
Funeral services for slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa, Long Island, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Sarauw tried to get the man out of his house through legal channels, but in January 2022, he says, the squatter, who lived in his basement, went upstairs and broke into his home.

Diller and three other officers were called to the robbery in progress at Sarauw’s home, where the young officer spotted the squatter rummaging through a first-floor closet. According to the homeowner, this was the third time he broke into the home through a window.

“He took the computer and (a Gibson Les Paul) guitar, then he came back for the TV and then he came back for the remote,” Sarauw said.

March 26, 2024: Officer killed during shootout in Queens

March 26, 2024 front page: Fatally injured in car stop Top fight suspect with history of nine felony arrests.  NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller was shot and killed after he and his partner apprehended two career criminals in Far Rockaway on Monday evening.

Daily news from New York

Front page of the New York Daily News of March 26, 2024: Fatally injured in car stop. Top fight suspect with a history of nine felony arrests. NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller was shot and killed after he and his partner apprehended two career criminals in Far Rockaway on Monday evening.

Diller and his colleagues arrested the man and helped Sarauw recover his expensive guitar, which the crook had sold to a pawn shop. “The police found the pawn shop ticket on him when they arrested him,” Sarauw remembers.

Diller joined the force in 2021. He was shot and killed, allegedly by 34-year-old gunman Guy Rivera during a traffic stop in the Far Rockaway section of Queens on March 25. Rivera is being held without bail on first-degree murder charges. Also charged was the driver of the car, 41-year-old Lindy Jones, who is suspected of possessing a weapon.

“When I saw his face, I said he looked familiar,” Sarauw said of Diller. ‘I mean we’re all victims, really. You just never know when it will happen to you. They’re there every day, so it’s a little more dangerous for them.

Police secure a vehicle in front of Mott Ave.  1919 in Far Rockaway, Queens, after NYPD officer Jonathan Diller was fatally shot during a car stop on Monday, March 25, 2024. (Sam Costanza for New York Daily News)
Police secure a vehicle in Far Rockaway, Queens, after NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller was fatally shot during a car stop on March 25. (Sam Costanza for New York Daily News)

Diller was also recognized for his “outstanding police work” after two gun arrests in 2022. The husband and father of a one-year-old boy was posthumously promoted to the rank of detective.

He excelled on patrol in one of the 105th Precinct’s busiest areas before leaving last year to join the Community Response Team, a move his then-commander personally signed off on.

“He was above everyone else, so that’s why I signed his papers and let him go to CRT,” Inspector Igor Pinkhasov said in an interview with the Daily News last week.

“A lot of times you don’t want to lose a good agent,” Pinkhasov added. “But I say, ‘It’s not a loss, it’s a gain for the police and the community. CRT was looking for highly motivated people – and he was one of them.”