BY LIZ GOFF, Queens Gazette
An off-duty Queens cop remains in very critical condition at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital this week, where surgeons performed extensive surgery to rebuild his face after he was brutally beaten with a tire iron.
Police said Officer Damian Bartels, who works out of the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills, was savagely beaten by three thugs, including one wielding a tire iron, during an August 29 road rage incident at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge.
Bartels was behind the wheel of his car at about 3:30 a.m. on August 29, driving his girlfriend and a cousin home to Queens when a Lexus with several occupants cut in front of them at the foot of the bridge, forcing Bartels' car to a stop, police said.
As both cars emptied and the shouting began, Bartels tried to intervene to calm things down. But the driver of the Lexus and his passengers started beating Bartels, one of them swinging a tire iron at the cop's head and face.
Police sources said Bartels was originally rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center, and then transferred to New York Presbyterian for treatment. Surgeons there worked for hours to reconstruct Bartels' nose, jaw and both eye sockets, the sources said.
Bartels' passengers told investigators the three men jumped back into the Lexus and fled the scene following the beating.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited Bartels at the hospital following the surgery and later met with the cop's family members.
Police are urging anyone with information on the three suspects sought in connection with the attack to call the Crimestoppers Hotline at 1-800-577- TIPS.
The Hotline is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.