State of the City: De Blasio honors heroes in speech

Emmanuel Mensah died in the Belmont apartment fire on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, his family said. He was honored by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his 2018 State of the City address.
Emmanuel Mensah died in the Belmont apartment fire on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, his family said. He was honored by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his 2018 State of the City address. Photo Credit: Metrograph

Mayor Bill de Blasio took time during his State of the City address Tuesday night to pay homage to a handful of New Yorkers with “incredible stories.”

A pamphlet containing the names of dozens of “heroes” was handed out to attendees ahead of the mayor’s speech, which took place at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

Here are the five people de Blasio highlighted.

Correction officer Jean Souffrant

Souffrant suffered a fractured spine when he was attacked by a group of inmates while on duty at Rikers Island on Saturday, Feb. 10, according to a criminal complaint. De Blasio said he spoke with the correction officer’s family shortly after the assault.

“Even with everything he was going through,” his main concern was for his fellow officers, the mayor said, before vowing to hold those responsible for the crime accountable. “We will take every action necessary to protect those brave officers. We will not allow our correction officers to be assaulted, period.”

The mayor described Souffrant as a “proud” immigrant from Haiti who lives in Crown Heights. A country that President Donald Trump recently “denigrated” during a meeting on immigration reform, he added.

“I want to thank the entire Haitian community . . . who have contributed so much to this city,” de Blasio said.

Police officer Ryan Nash

Nash acted “quickly and selflessly,” to apprehend the terror suspect who drove a truck onto the West Side bike path on Oct. 31, 2017. 

“A person filled with evil and hatred tried to strike at the heart of the city,” de Blasio said. “Let’s remember something important: That attack came out of nowhere, but it could have been much worse if it wasn’t for police officer Ryan Nash.”

Eight people were killed and at least 12 others were injured in the attack.

Emmanuel Mensah, FDNY Engine 88 and Ladder 38 

“There’s one more story I have to tell, and it has a painful ending,” de Blasio said.

The mayor paid reverence to the members of Engine 88 and Ladder 38, who he said were first on the scene of the city’s deadliest fire in 25 years, before turning his attention to Army National Guard Pvt. Emmanuel Mensah.

Mensah, who was among the 13 people killed in the Dec. 28 fire in the Bronx, went into the burning building, “not once, not twice, but three times to save his neighbors,” de Blasio said. 

Speaking to Mensah’s family members who attended the State of the City address, de Blasio said: “I wanted to let them know, that we are all their family now.”

Joseph J. Caggiano

Described by de Blasio as “a good man” from Staten Island, Caggiano has worked for the city Department of Sanitation for 52 years.

“Joe is the oldest active duty, uniformed employee in all of New York City,” de Blasio said. “They don’t call them New York’s Strongest for nothing, do they Joe.”

Det. Leo Pereyra

The 21-year veteran of the NYPD was honored by the mayor for saving a woman who had jumped onto the subway tracks at an E train station while off-duty.

“He jumped on the tracks to save her life. He made sure she was safe and made sure she was in good hands,” de Blasio said of Pereyra, who works on the mayor’s security detail. “He wasn’t on duty when he did it . . . but he’s devoted to the people of this city.”

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