A veteran New York police officer who was beaten about the face with a chair during a deadly nail salon melee on Friday night, was released from the hospital Monday, Oct. 28.
New York Police Officer Lesly Lafontant, 53, was greeted with salutes from dozens of fellow officers when he left Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, mere days after suffering the vicious attack, the New York Post reported.
The 21-year veteran of the force emerged from his medically induced coma and was able to recognize people, could sit up, and has begun speaking again on Sunday.
Lafontant suffered multiple orbital fractures, as well as an eye injury and a broken cheekbone during the violent assault. He was now well enough to go home.
“I think we have to thank God for him being alive today. It was a very traumatic incident. He took a lot of trauma in his head and neck area,” NYPD Capt. Craig Edelman said. He added that Lafontant faced a “long road” to recovery.
The veteran officer was hospitalized after getting attacked while trying to arrest a vagrant, later identified as 26-year-old Dewayne Hawkes, accused of peeing inside the Goldmine Nails Spa in Brownsville on Friday, the New York Daily News reported.
That’s when an unhinged T-shirt vendor, 33-year-old Kwesi Ashun, allegedly entered the salon, grabbed a metal chair and smashed officer LaFontant over the head and in the face.
Lafontant’s rookie partner tried to stop Ashun, using his Taser but it was not effective, according to the New York Post.
Despite being struck several times, Laftontant was able to fire six rounds at Ashun, and at least one bullet struck him in the head, leading to his death.
According to Ashun’s sister, he struggled with bipolar disorder. She said she had sought help when he began “spiraling” out of control 11 days earlier.
However, the New York Health Department’s “Mobile Crisis Team” determined that Ashun wasn’t a threat to himself or others, said his sister, Ama Bartley.
It was not the first time Ashun had attacked a police officer. He sliced Officer James Sinnott’s face with a knife in October 2004. He was then arrested and transported to the hospital as an “emotionally disturbed person,” according to the New York Daily News. The case against Ashun was sealed, and the disposition is unknown.
Meanwhile, Hawkes fled the scene. He was arrested a short while later and was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest, according to WNBC.