The state of New York awarded Irvington police officer Arcangelo Liberatore with a “Lifesaving Award” last week.
While off duty in a Thornwood park with his family, Liberatore came to the aid of five-year-old Natalia Petrellese. She had been playing with her mother and brother when a rabid coyote attacked. Seeing the danger, Liberatore pulled the little girl to safety before tackling and restraining the animal with Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques.
“I don’t think it is recommended when you learn jiu-jitsu, but we’re very happy it worked and it worked well,” Irvington Mayor Brian Smith said. “We can’t say enough about his bravery.” Irvington’s Police Chief Michael P. Cerone echoed the mayor’s praise. “His heroism in taking on a rabid coyote barehanded was an amazing deed and exemplifies the true meaning of being a police officer: protecting society from all kinds of predators.”
“As a police officer, I never thought about the after effect,” Liberatore said during his acceptance speech on November 12. “I thought about the immediate effect I would have on a person. Now when I respond I try to prep them for what’s coming after.” He said the experience has allowed him to “learn about myself, learn about my family, and how everyone processes trauma or certain situations differently.”
Liberatore has also been awarded the Carnegie Medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund for his courage. The award is dedicated to individuals who risk their lives “to an extraordinary degree, while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”