U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer awarded Officer Joshua Comitale with the Congressional Badge of Bravery at Hudson Valley on Feb. 23.
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, Police Chief John Tedesco, Hudson Valley President Drew Matonak and Schumer all spoke to the crowd. Congressman Paul Tonko was not able to attend the event but sent a letter that was read and congratulated Comentale.
On Aug. 22, 2015, Comitale responded to a carjacking call.
Comitale waited to approach the suspect until backup officers were able to arrive. As officers approached the suspect, Thaddeus Faison, he tried to run away.
Officer Chad Klein was one of the backup officers who arrived to assist Comitale. While he was still in his vehicle he was shot in his shoulder by Faison. Officer Comitale witnessed the suspect firing into Officer Klein’s vehicle and returned fire.
Faison returned fire and, according to Police Chief Ted Tedesco, more than 20 rounds were exchanged between the Faison and Comitale. Comitale was shot in both his legs. Faison was struck five times during this exchange, but continued to resist arrest.
Faison was eventually tased by additional responding officers, however he died soon after from his injuries.
Toxicology tests on the suspect revealed an “extraordinary high” level of PCP in his system
Comentale and Klein were transported for medical treatment. Comentale was able to be reunited with his three-month pregnant wife at the hospital.
“The heroics are well defined that evening,” Chief John Tedesco said after the event. “What they did to come back to duty is even more heroic.”
“This award is important to me but also to my family. They went through the worst part of this. I had some wounds, but I think it was a lot tougher for them,” said Comentale. According to him, the award is more for those who stood by him during the recovery.
Comitale is the first New York officer to receive Congressional Badge of Bravery.
The award was established in 2008 and honors federal, state, or local law enforcement officers who display exceptional bravery while in the line of duty.
As Schumer placed the medal around Comentale’s neck he said, “on behalf of a grateful city, state and nation, I thank you for your bravery Officer Comentale.”
“This is the kind of day that makes your job worthwhile,” said Schumer, “people who lose faith in American; look at this family.”
While speaking to the crowd, Schumer mentioned that he has cared about law and order since he first came to the assembly and saw how crime was tearing up his own neighborhood.
Schumer wrote a Crime Bill in 1994 which put more than 100,000 cops on the beat. He also fought for and created the Community Oriented Policing Service’s grant program which works to ensure that police departments have the resources they need to keep New Yorkers safe.