Police Officer Cannon: The Heroic Tradition Continues
Last Saturday, the street running north-south next to the 69th Precinct station house — East 98th Street between Foster Avenue and Farragut Road — was renamed. It will now be officially known as Police Officer Raymond Cannon Jr. Way, in honor of a cop who was slain while doing his duty as a member of the New York Police Department.
It was a pleasure to have known Ray Cannon, even if it was mostly while we were both doing our jobs. It was an honor to know him too, as it is an honor to know so many of the police officers here.
There are still a few people around who can tell you, first hand, about December 2, 1994, the day Police Officer Raymond Cannon was shot to death. He died a hero’s death — in the line of duty — while investigating a call that neighboring store owners saw four men acting suspiciously enter a local bicycle shop and they feared there may be a robbery in progress.
I was there moments after Cannon and his partner, Police Officer Kevin Murphy, went to the store where they saw the owners standing behind a counter and, when the officers asked if everything was okay, the owners said it was a mistake and everything was all right after all.
But Cannon and Murphy, being good cops, said they’d hang around a minute or so just to see that things were indeed normal. They passed the time of day with the owners and noticed a waver of nervousness in their voices. Then Cannon saw a cash register drawer lying on the counter and slowly reached for his gun as he silently waved the owners aside.
At the same time, a lowlife by the name of Richard Larrier, 36, jumped from behind the counter firing his handgun at the officers, striking Cannon in the head twice. Murphy shot back, killing Larrier and engaging in a gun battle with three other robbers and calling on his radio, “Officer down! Officer down!” He and two officers from the Housing Police who had been patrolling nearby when they heard the call, helped pull Cannon’s body along the floor and out of the store while they continued to battle the three robbers.
Cannon died a few hours after an ambulance took him to Brookdale Hospital. The three robbers hid inside the bike shop, shooting at police who had surrounded the store, trying to continue their battle because a couple of bicycles and a little cash meant more to them than a human life. They eventually escaped to a basement area where they were arrested after being discovered cowering behind some boxes….and some appropriate piles of garbage.
It becomes very, very personal, you know. I’m telling tales rarely spoken among the rank and file when I say they know what might be around any corner or in any store when, in the line of duty , they answer a call to help a store owner or an individual . Nobody ever mentions it, of course, and too few civilians think about it enough.
We all have a tendency to become complacent; too complacent until the tragedy happens and we get a wake-up call that says it could happen anytime, anywhere.
We cannot ignore their dedication, professionalism and, most of all, their spirit.
That’s why they’re called The Finest.