New York 1 News

December 6, 2002

Queens Judge Rules To Release Accused Cop Shooter

A man accused of shooting a police officer in 1999 is now free.

Queens Judge Laura Blackburne Friday dismissed a 13-count indictment against William Hodges, who was suspected of shooting Officer David Gonzalez in 1999. Hodges is alleged to have shot Gonzalez with the officer's gun during a scuffle inside a South Jamaica apartment building.

The judge claims prosecutors were too slow to present their case and violated Hodges' right to a speedy trial. Hodges was held in jail for longer than a suspect can be legally held before trial.

The law requires prosecutors to try a case in 182 days, roughly six months after a suspect is arraigned.

Motions from defense lawyers and prosecutors can delay the process and that time frame is often blown out. But in this case, Hodges’ attorney Arthur Friedman said Prosecutors were responsible for 208 days of delays.

Last month, he was released without bail. Police are blasting the judge's decision and the district attorney's office is blaming the defense for months of delays.

“He tried to kill me and now he's walking the streets,” said Gonzalez, who has since returned to the NYPD. “I hope he doesn't try to kill anyone else.”

“We may not like it. We may not like the person; we may not like the crime he committed,” Friedman said, “but if he's acquitted under the law, let free under the law, that's the way our society functions.”

But questions have also been raised about the relationship between Judge Blackburne and the mother of the defendant, who have both been involved with the local branch of the NAACP.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said he will call for the resignation of the judge.

“If this judge cannot put a prejudice against blue, against police officers, to the side, she should not be on that bench,” Lynch said.

The PBA said last month that Gonzalez still has shrapnel in his hip and leg from the shooting.

Queens prosecutors plan to appeal the ruling.