November 9, 2002

Cops: He's Free, but He Shot One of Us

Judge to decide whether to recharge man in attack

By William Murphy STAFF WRITER

A Queens judge will decide within a month whether to restore attempted murder charges against a man accused of shooting a police officer with the cop's gun.

Justice Laura Blackburne outraged officers crowding a courtroom in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens Friday when she said William Hodges would be free on his own recognizance until Dec. 6 when she will rule on the prosecution request.

Hodges, 31, was released without bail on Oct. 16 after the judge dismissed the original charges stemming from the shooting of rookie police officer David Gonzalez in Jamaica in 1999 when he was responding to a domestic disturbance call.

Blackburne said last month that the Queens district attorney's office had not complied with speedy-trial rules. But Friday the prosecution said it had not violated the rules.

"We believe that the court erred in dismissing the indictment and it was unjustified in releasing the defendant. We hope we will prevail on re-argument. If we are not [successful], we are prepared to appeal," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Angry police officers, some in uniform, crowded the aisle outside the courtroom in the morning as Hodges and members of his family entered.

Most of the officers did not seem to notice Hodges pass and the police union officials were already in the courtroom.

Gonzalez stood next to Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, as the union denounced the judge's ruling after the court hearing.

"Once again she has released a future cop killer onto the streets of this city," Lynch said. "Every police officer should be aware that their future murderer ... will be walking out of this courtroom."

Gonzalez declined to comment because he may have to testify if the charges are restored.

Members of the Hodges family also declined to comment, but defense attorney Arthur Friedman told reporters that the hearing was about the speedy trail requirements, not the judge or the prosecutors.

"If the police are unhappy about that, or anyone is unhappy about that, their redress is not with the courts but with the State Legislature," Friedman told reporters.