New York Daily News

December 19, 2002

PBA to sue suspect freed in cop shoot

By MICHELE McPHEE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association plans to file a $5 million civil suit against a Queens man who allegedly shot a cop, but will never face trial for the crime, the Daily News has learned.

William Hodges, 32, has been free since Dec. 6 when Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne ruled that prosecutors had taken too long to bring him to trial.

The controversial ruling raised the ire of cops, and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who called the decision's "mathematically inaccurate" and vowed to appeal.

In the meantime, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the union intends to pursue Hodges for civil damages.

"The criminal court did not hold this drug-dealing cop shooter accountable," said Lynch. "Hopefully the civil court will."

Hodges allegedly shot uniformed rookie Officer David Gonzalez during a struggle over the cop's service revolver on Nov. 12, 1999. At the time, prosecutors charged, Hodges was a small-time crack dealer.

On Dec. 6, Blackburne ruled that prosecutors had failed to meet the six-month deadline for bringing Hodges to trial. The judge then dismissed the attempted murder charges.

The News reported last month that Blackburne and the suspect's mother, Sandra Hodges, were friends and belonged to the same Jamaica, Queens, chapter of the NAACP. That was confirmed by one of the group's leaders.

Hodges and Blackburne have since denied knowing each other, and NAACP leaders have said Sandra Hodges never belonged to the Jamaica branch.

Gonzalez still walks with a slight limp from the bullet that pierced his right hip.

"I'm still waiting for my day in court, I'm still waiting to tell my side of the story," Gonzalez said yesterday. "This guy tried to kill me and I want to see him prosecuted one way or another."

Gregory Longworth, the attorney representing the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association on Gonzalez's behalf, said the suit will cite two causes for damages: that Hodges intentionally shot Gonzalez, and that his actions caused Gonzalez permanent damage.

Hodges' attorney, Arthur Freidman, said his client has been working in the construction industry since he was freed from jail. He declined to comment on the possibility of a civil suit.