The off-duty police officer punched in the face and relieved of her gun yesterday morning in the Bronx could be reprimanded for carrying the weapon in her purse. The cop, identified by the tabloids as 41-year-old Nilda Quezada, was entering the underground parking garage from the elevator of her Wakefield apartment building around 5 a.m. when a man police now identify as 21-year-old Samuel Thornton ripped a chain from her neck and grabbed for her purse, according to the NYPD.

A senior department official told reporters she reached into her purse to grab her handgun, but Thornton punched her in the face two or three times and she dropped it. NYPD training mandates that cops carry guns on them at all times. The Times quotes the relevant portion of the patrol guide:

Do not carry firearms in briefcases, handbags, fanny packs, hip packs, tote bags, knapsacks, paper bags or similar devices. Carry firearms, on the person, in an appropriate holster specifically designed to afford maximum protection against loss of weapon.

"Obvious neglect of care of firearm" is a violation punishable at the discretion of commanding officers, according to the paper.

The Post reports Thornton was hiding in wait, citing footage that shows him lurking inside the building and a super's description of video that showed Quezada "caught off guard." Police describe Thornton as 21, 6 feet tall, and 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Police ask people with information about the incident to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). People can also submit tips at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering "TIP577".