NEW YORK – An auxiliary police officer killed while confronting a deranged gunman in Greenwich Village “came face to face with evil, and conquered it,” the city’s police commissioner said at the volunteer officer’s funeral Saturday.

Nicholas Todd Pekearo, 28, received full police honors as his NYPD flag-draped coffin was carried out of a Manhattan funeral home.

The department’s Emerald Society band led the funeral procession across West 14th Street, to the beat of drums cloaked in black. The somber march came an hour before the start of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

During the brief service, punctuated by sobs, the police commissioner praised Pekearo’s “long-standing practice of giving back to the community.”

Pekearo was born and raised in Greenwich Village, which he patrolled as an auxiliary officer each week while planning to join the force full-time.

He and his partner, 19-year-old Eugene Marshalik, were fatally shot Wednesday evening while confronting gunman David Garvin as he fled through the streets after killing a bartender in a restaurant.

Neither officer was armed.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly credited Pekearo and Marshalik with ordering Garvin to drop a bag containing a gun and ammunition, thus preventing further bloodshed.

“He came face to face with evil and conquered it,” the commissioner told mourners who packed Redden’s Funeral Home, including hundreds of family members, friends and officers from both the regular and auxiliary police.

Regular police officers cornered and killed Garvin minutes after the shootings.

Speakers at the service, led by the Rev. Robert J. Romano, a Roman Catholic NYPD chaplain, included Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Pekearo’s girlfriend, Christina Honeycutt.

“My relationship with Nick was divine – is divine,” she told mourners before composing herself so she could sing an Irish love song.

Pekearo and Marshalik were part of the city’s force of 4,500 auxiliary officers – volunteers who dress like full-time police but are not given weapons or bulletproof vests.

Pekearo had purchased his own vest and was wearing it, but it didn’t save his life; only one of the several shots that struck him hit the armor. The fatal shots pierced his torso, lungs and aorta.

Auxiliary officers are rewarded with “little more than personal satisfaction and a job well done,” Kelly said, adding that Pekearo was especially devoted to protecting the West Village community that had nurtured “his artistic talent.”

When he died, he had just completed the manuscript of his third novel and was hoping to publish the thriller, said Shirley Ariker, his writing teacher at Empire State College, where he studied while working at a Manhattan book shop.

“His book is very good. It’s all about the struggle to do good,” said Ariker, who wept near the casket. She said she had invited Pekearo to her home two weeks ago to work on his latest manuscript.

After the funeral, officers from the precinct where Pekearo and Marshalik worked said he was a strong presence there.

“He helped in training additional officers who came in,” said Deputy Inspector Theresa Shortell, the Sixth Precinct’s commanding officer.

Each night before he went on patrol, Pekearo “made sure his uniform was pressed. He was as crisp as they come.”

And he was compassionate.

Last year, when another precinct officer was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and had lost his hair, Pekearo shaved his own head in solidarity, Shortell said.

As the hearse drove away, hundreds of police officers stood at attention. One officer in dress uniform saluted, fighting tears as she touched her white-gloved hand to her head.

Pekearo was to be cremated; the family had yet to decide where to deposit his remains.

A funeral for Marshalik is scheduled for Sunday in Brooklyn.

AP-ES-03-17-07 1614EDT

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