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A Bustling Block, a Traffic Stop and an Officer’s Life Cut Short

On Monday evening, Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway was busy as usual in the fading sunshine. People hurried past a library, a Caribbean takeout spot, a juice bar. Traffic crept along, but one car stood out by staying still, illegally parked in a bus stop.

A police patrol car slowed to a stop, and two officers stepped out and approached.

One officer, Jonathan Diller, 31, had been on the job three years. Wearing his uniform’s snug bullet-resistant vest, he peered toward the vehicle and noticed two people, a driver and a passenger.

The bright storefront of a Jackson Hewitt, a few doors down, advertised tax services. Inside, Tanya Jones, 42, the manager, looked up from behind her desk when the door opened — it was her children, stopping to show her toys they’d bought nearby. The block was always teeming with neighborhood boys and girls after school.

Her children returned outside.

In the street, Officer Diller approached the parked car and called for the passenger to step out. No response. He called out again. Nothing.

Officer Diller, who had three years on the job, left behind a wife and baby son.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Older officers, retired officers will tell you: This is the worst part of the job. It’s facing the potential danger of walking up to a parked car or an apartment door, with no real idea of what’s happening inside.

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