The DEA Honor Roll
Official Line of Duty Deaths
Shield Number: 2003
Command: Brooklyn South Narcotics
Date of Death: 08/16/1988
Cause of Death: Shot - Arrest
During the early evening of August 16, 1988, P.O. Joseph Galapo, of the Brooklyn South Narcotics District, was part of a buy and bust operation in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Galapo spotted several men making a drug transaction in the doorway of a building. He and a Sergeant approached the group, told them they were under arrest, and positioned them against a car for frisking. While trying to escape arrest for heroin possession, one of the perpetrators suddenly moved and hit the Sergeant’s right hand, thus causing the Sergeant’s gun to go off. The single shot from the gun struck Galapo below the left eye and traveled around to the back of his head.
Officer Galapo was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, but later died. The suspect, Joseph Barker, 24, ran, but was eventually arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide stemming from the buy-and-bust operation.
While P.O. Galapo was posthumously awarded the NYPD Medal of Honor, he was also on the promotion list at the time that he was killed. His widow Lana said that Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward held a small ceremony in his office promoting Galapo to Detective, but that no one knew about it, not even his colleagues or the Union. Years later, Lana Galapo mentioned this to the President of the Dade County PBA in Florida — John Rivera — and Rivera, in turn, told DEA President Thomas J. Scotto. Through the tireless efforts of Scotto and the DEA Board of Officers, 12 years later, on December 15, 2000, Joseph Galapo was formerly, posthumously promoted to the rank of gold shield Detective by then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Galapo was assigned shield #2003, because it was the year, said his widow, that he planned to retire.
Joseph Galapo was born on March 25, 1958 in Cairo, Egypt, and his family also lived in France during his childhood. He moved to the United States, and his family, which included his mother, sister, and brother, settled in Brooklyn. He graduated Automotive High School and, always wanting to be a Police Officer, was appointed to the force on July 25, 1983. Prior to working in Narcotics, he was assigned to the 60th Precinct and Neighborhood Stabilization Unit #14. He was a member of the Shomrim Society, and is buried at the United Hebrew Cemetery on Staten Island.
Det. Galapo was survived by his wife, Lana, and his three sons, Daniel, Robert, and Richard.
The NYPD Mounted Unit named a horse “Galapo” in his honor.
Det. Joe Galapo Avenue is located at 7th Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets in Brooklyn.
A playground in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn is also named in his honor. The 15-acre playground was previously named Bedford Neck Playground, but was re-dedicated on February 2, 1990. The park is located at Avenue V and East 24th Street.
A plaque was dedicated to Det. Galapo at NYPD Police Headquarters on December 15, 2000 at One Police Plaza.