By Danny Schrafel
Suffolk County Police Officer Mark Collins, a decorated member of the Second Precinct Crime Unit’s anti-gang task force who was seriously hurt Wednesday night after being shot during a pursuit, is no longer in a medically-induced coma and has been upgraded to “fair” condition, Suffolk County Police said Friday afternoon.
A police spokesperson said Collins, 35, of North Bellmore, is “conscious and responsive.” It’s unclear when Collins was taken out of the coma.
“Though seriously injured, the prognosis is very good for Officer Collins’ full recovery for which we are all incredibly grateful,” Second Precinct Inspector Edward Brady said in an email statement Thursday.
Collins was shot twice – once in the neck and once in the hip – after a traffic stop near East Jericho Turnpike and Mercer Court shortly before midnight Wednesday.
Sheldon Leftenant, 22, of Huntington Station, was arraigned Thursday afternoon, accused in the attempted aggravated murder of a police officer. He faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted.
Collins is a decorated officer in the Second Precinct Crime Section’s anti-gang unit and a recent past recipient of the department’s Officer of the Year honor in 2008, as well as a Bravery Gold Medal for rescuing a man from a house fire in Huntington Station in 2008.
Collins was awarded Second Precinct Cop of the Year in 2008 for a drugs and weapon arrest he made with another officer during a traffic stop in Huntington Station the year before.
In that case, Collins and Officer Kevin Quinn attempted to pull over a vehicle driving erratically on July 4, 2007 but the vehicle sped away and intentionally rammed the police vehicle three times during the pursuit, which caused both vehicles to become inoperable. As officers ordered the suspect out of the vehicle, the suspect pulled a loaded pistol. A struggle ensued and the officers subdued the suspect and placed him under arrest. In addition to the gun, officers confiscated numerous bags of crack cocaine.
During a courthouse press conference Thursday, Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota said police pulled over the vehicle, containing Leftenant and three other occupants, because they had passed the unmarked car and were swerving in and out of lanes of traffic at high speed.
During the traffic stop, as the driver turned over his license and registration, the two back-seat passengers were “fidgety, nervous, moving their hands in and out of their pockets,” Spota said.
The incident escalated when Leftenant bolted from the back seat and ran across Jericho Turnpike. Collins and another officer ran after him.
As Collins closed in, Leftenant – whom Collins later said he believed he had hit with a Taser – opened fire, said Spota. Another officer found Collins lying in the street, “bleeding profusely” from his neck, Spota continued. Sheldon Leftenant, 22, was arrested about a block away, discovered hiding in a shed.
Leftenant pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Tuesday, March 17.