Northeast Times

Tributes to a fallen officer

— Of­ficer Robert S. Hayes was honored with a mur­al and a plaque. His fam­ily and former part­ner joined in the ce­re­mony.

Po­lice Of­ficer Robert S. Hayes’s son Ry­an Hayes speaks to the crowd who at­ten­ded the re­veal­ing of a mur­al ded­ic­ated in Of­ficer Hayes’s memory.He was killed in the line of duty, Wed­nes­day, June 20, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa.(Donna Di Paolo)

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The Bustleton Bengals proudly play their games at the Of­ficer Robert S. Hayes Me­mori­al Play­ground, named for a po­lice of­ficer killed in the line of duty in 1993.

Some time ago, a skate­boarder rid­ing on the roof of the play­ground build­ing knocked off and dam­aged the plaque me­mori­al­iz­ing Hayes.

The Bengals went to work, com­mis­sion­ing a mur­al to hon­or Hayes and his part­ner John Marynow­itz, who was ser­i­ously wounded after a traffic stop 19 years ago.

Last week, the Bengals presen­ted plaques to Marynow­itz and the Hayes fam­ily, un­veiled a new plaque for the play­ground and in­tro­duced the mur­al with the in­scrip­tion that read, “Robert S. Hayes. Died in the line of duty pro­tect­ing the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia on June 16, 1993.”

The mur­al, drawn by Bob Baum­ner and Sha­risma Smo­je, fea­tures a like­ness of Hayes and his badge, No. 6720. Ad­ja­cent is a small garden with flowers and the Amer­ic­an flag.

“It was so beau­ti­ful. I’m over­whelmed,” wid­ow Jo-Ann Hayes said of the June 20 ce­re­mony, held in in­tense heat at the play­ground, at 9800 Roosevelt Blvd.

Hayes, a dec­or­ated Vi­et­nam War vet­er­an, and Marynow­itz, who had a crim­in­al justice de­gree from Temple Uni­versity, entered the Po­lice Academy in March 1986. Hayes was known af­fec­tion­ately as “Uncle Bob” be­cause, at 38, he was older than most re­cruits.

“We be­came great friends from the very be­gin­ning,” Marynow­itz said.

The two were as­signed to the 35th Po­lice Dis­trict. They won val­or com­mend­a­tions for drug ar­rests. Their fam­il­ies spent time to­geth­er on va­ca­tions, trips and hol­i­days.

In June 16, 1993, Hayes and Marynow­itz pulled over a gypsy cab with a de­fect­ive tail­light at the in­ter­sec­tion of Limekiln Pike and An­drews Av­en­ue in West Oak Lane for what they thought was go­ing to be a routine stop. The driver was a 19-year-old il­leg­al im­mig­rant from Haiti named Borgela Phil­istin.

The of­ficers saw drugs in the car and tried to ap­pre­hend him. He res­isted, and a struggle en­sued. He grabbed Marynow­itz’s gun and shot Hayes in the eye and stom­ach. He wounded Marynow­itz in the head and shoulder, leav­ing him per­man­ently in a wheel­chair.

Phil­istin was con­victed of murder and sen­tenced to die. He re­mains on death row.

The of­ficer left be­hind his wife and sons Bobby, Shawn and Ry­an, who were ages 10, 9 and 8. The fam­ily lived in Rhawn­hurst. Jo-Ann Hayes couldn’t vis­it the site of her hus­band’s murder, go­ing there only for a 2005 ce­re­mony where a plaque was ded­ic­ated in his memory.

Robert and Jo-Ann Hayes have eight grand­chil­dren, all of whom were at last week’s ce­re­mony at a fa­cil­ity that changed names from Con­well Play­ground to Robert S. Hayes Me­mori­al Play­ground in 1994.

“Through this play­ground, my grand­chil­dren have got­ten to know my hus­band. I nev­er thought they’d ask about Robert S. Hayes and who he was,” she said.

The three Hayes sons also were on hand. The young­est, Ry­an, re­membered his dad help­ing out with Cub Scouts and play­ing whiffle ball with them.

“He was an ex­traordin­ary man,” said Ry­an, now 27, who wants to be­come a cop. “For the short time we had him, he was my hero, and I al­ways wanted to be like him.”

The ce­re­mony in­cluded the sounds of po­lice Sgt. Ed­ward Hays on the bag­pipes and Cath­er­ine Mary Bell singing God Bless Amer­ica.

City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill, state Sen. Mike Stack and Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 vice pres­id­ent Mike Trask at­ten­ded, along with aides to state Reps. Brendan Boyle and Kev­in Boyle.

Bengals pres­id­ent Kev­in Hughes and chair­man Vince Tar­ducci presen­ted flowers to Jo-Ann Hayes and Mindy Marynow­itz, John’s wife.

Bri­an Marynow­itz, the of­ficer’s broth­er, re­cog­nized Ruth Mc­Girt and Jeff Camp­bell. Mc­Girt, a res­pir­at­ory tech­ni­cian who heard the gun­shots, per­formed mouth-to-mouth re­sus­cit­a­tion on Marynow­itz. Camp­bell, a po­lice of­ficer, ar­rived on the scene.

“Without these two, I can hon­estly say I don’t think my broth­er would be here today. I only wish we could have saved Bob,” he said.

Bri­an Marynow­itz said his broth­er has been brave all these years, with help from Mindy and their son Joey, just 19 months old when his dad was shot.

“He’s come a long way in nine­teen years. For that, he’s my hero,” Bri­an said of John.

John Marynow­itz, who re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion, de­scribed his former part­ner as a great sol­dier, po­lice­man, hus­band and fath­er.

“I just want to thank every­body for an awe­some trib­ute to Bob,” he said.

Marynow­itz, who en­cour­aged the crowd to, “Nev­er give up, al­ways go on,” cred­ited his wife and son with help­ing him daily.

“I want to thank Joey and Mindy for stand­ing by my side all these years. I wouldn’t be here today without them,” he said.

O’Neill is work­ing with the Bengals to build a gym­nas­i­um at the play­ground.

“It will not just have the Bengals name on it,” he said. “It will have ‘Hayes Play­ground’ on it as well.” ••

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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