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Queens police officer likely killed by 9/11 toxins honored in Whitestone street co-naming

Sep. 25, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan

The corner of 149th Street and 14th Avenue in Whitestone was ceremoniously co-named in honor of former police officer, and 9/11 hero, Thomas Gerald Brophy this past weekend. 

Brophy’s family was joined by local residents, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, more than a dozen members of the Police Benevolent Association and one police dog. The new street sign, which is blue and includes the NYPD logo, reads “Police Officer Thomas G. Brophy Way,” and was unveiled on the rainy Saturday morning on Sept. 23. 

The rain didn’t stop the community from honoring Police Officer Brophy at the street co-naming ceremony.Photo courtesy of Alexis Winters/Councilwoman Paladino’s Office

“Our hearts mourn for Officer Brophy, his family, and the lives lost on and following the attacks. We will never forget Officer Brophy or his sacrifice,” said Councilwoman Vickie Paladino. “Whenever we walk past 14th Avenue, it serves as a reminder of his heroic effort and his selfless dedication to our city.”

Officer Brophy served in the NYPD for sixteen years, first in the 114th precinct, which encompasses several nabes in western Queens, and then the 109th precinct, covering Flushing and Whitestone. He also worked in the Fleet Services Division. 

The new sign was unveiled in Whitestone.Photo courtesy of Alexis Winters/Councilwoman Paladino’s Office

In 2005, Brophy lost his battle with metastatic colon cancer and died at 36. Doctors suspect that the cancer was caused by exposure to toxins that he breathed in during the rescue, recovery and clean up efforts at the World Trade Center in 2001. 

“Days after the 9/11 attacks, we were told by the government, and by people in this city, that the air was safe down at the World Trade Center. But as police officers that were working there, we knew that the air wasn’t safe,” said Patrick G. Hendry, NYC PBA President at the ceremony. “That didn’t stop police officers like Thomas Brophy from doing his job knowing that he was putting himself at risk.” 

The community turned out to honor Officer Brophy.Photo courtesy of Alexis Winters/Councilwoman Paladino’s Office

He was survived by his wife Rita and son Matthew, who was only three years old when his father passed away. 

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