The Chief
December 27, 2002

PBA Will Sue Suspect Over Cop Shooting

By Mark Daly

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association plans to file a $5 million civil lawsuit against a suspect in a cop shooting who went free this year after a judge ruled he had been denied a speedy trial.

An attorney for the police union is preparing a claim for damages against William Hodges, who allegedly wounded Police Officer David Gonzalez with the officer’s service revolver following a struggle in a Jamaica apartment building on Nov. 12, 1999.

Prosecutors charged that Mr. Hodges was working as a low-level crack dealer on the night Mr. Gonzalez, then a rookie officer, responded to a call about a domestic disturbance. Now a Detective, the officer still walks with a limp from the bullet wound to his hip.

‘Hold Him Accountable’

“The criminal court didn’t hold Mr. Gonzalez accountable, so maybe the civil court will,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said last week through a spokesman.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne drew stinging criticism from the police unions Dec. 6 after she rejected a motion by prosecutors to restore attempted murder charges against Mr. Hodges.

The judge let Mr. Hodges go free without bail Nov. 18 after she concluded that prosecutors had used 208 days’ worth of adjournments in the case, in violation of the legal requirement that they proceed to trial within 182 days. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown called the decision “mathematically inaccurate” and vowed to appeal.

In announcing her Dec. 6 decision, Justice Blackburne said state law did not allow her to take into consideration the status or occupation of the of the victim in the case.