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Man Who Attacked Police Officers With Machete Sentenced to 27 Years

LocalMan Who Attacked Police Officers With Machete Sentenced to 27 Years

A man who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault for a machete attack on three police officers near Times Square during the 2022 New Year’s Eve celebration was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison on Thursday.

The man, Trevor Bickford, 20, had driven to New York City from Maine two days before to carry out the attack “in the name of jihad” after watching videos online that radicalized him, the authorities said. Mr. Bickford pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder of law enforcement officers and three counts of assault of law enforcement officers for attacking the three New York City police officers with a machete.

One officer suffered a fractured skull, and another shot Mr. Bickford in the shoulder.

Mr. Bickford, a Maine resident at the time of the attack, told the court that he was sorry when he pleaded guilty in January and again before his sentence was announced.

He told the judge, P. Kevin Castel, on Thursday that he understood that it was “a tall order” asking for the forgiveness of the police officers he attacked, as well as that of their families.

Mr. Bickford, dressed in a tan collared button-down shirt and tan pants, was led into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. As he walked to the defense table, he glanced at the full courtroom, where his family sat in the second row.

Across the aisle, the three officers who were attacked — Mickel Hanna, Paul Cozzolino and Louis Iorio were seated in the front row. Their supporters, more than two dozen people wearing Police Benevolent Association pins, were seated throughout the courtroom.

Mr. Bickford, 20, is also facing state charges of first-degree attempted murder and attempted assault stemming from the attack. A trial date has not been set in that case, according to a spokeswoman with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

In a pre-sentencing letter to the court, Mr. Bickford wrote, “I wish that I could take back my actions.”

He became depressed after his parents’ separation and his father’s death in 2018, he said. In the months that followed, in an effort to cope, he drank and smoked and “lost all hope of making anything of myself,” he wrote. Mr. Bickford said he was also hearing voices at the time and read about different religions, eventually getting deeper and deeper into fringe ideologies.

“By the time I attacked the officers, I had become someone else,” he wrote.

Prosecutors said Mr. Bickford had written a farewell letter to his family in his diary, referring to his brother, who is in the U.S. military, as having taken the uniform of the enemy.

Prosecutors said that he gave the Bowery Mission half of the $4,000 he was carrying, a step they said “jihadists commonly take in an effort to ensure that they go to heaven when they become a martyr.”

It was shortly after 10 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2022, when, without provocation, Mr. Bickford began swinging a machete at the officers, the authorities said. The attack happened near the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 52nd Street, just outside the security screening area that the police had established for the celebrations, the authorities said at the time. After Mr. Bickford was shot, he was taken to the hospital and arrested.

In the time since his arrest, the mental health treatment he has gotten, including the medications he has been prescribed, have helped him, Mr. Bickford said in his letter.

In a letter of support, Mr. Bickford’s mother, Audra, asked for Judge Castel’s understanding of “how sick this boy was” and how much he had improved with medical treatment over the past year. She described Mr. Bickford’s character as a young child — a conflict mediator and caretaker for his siblings — and the efforts she made to get him help once she realized he was struggling with his mental health.

She said she went to the police in Maine in an effort to “blue paper” him, a process of involuntary commitment for a person deemed a threat to themselves or others, but was not successful. Mr. Bickford also went through mental health screenings — by at least four doctors, she said — to no avail.

“I tried you know, I tried so very hard to get him to receive help and treatment,” she wrote to Judge Castel. “I knew something was not OK with my child and no one would listen to me.”

Prosecutors had asked Mr. Bickford be given a sentence of 50 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision. Mr. Bickford’s lawyers, highlighting his regret and apologies, asked that he be sentenced to a term of 10 years in prison, followed by 15 years of post-release supervision.

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