New York Daily News

November 18, 2003

Freed in cop shooting, he may have to pay $5M

By MICHELE MCPHEE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

The man accused of shooting NYPD Detective David Gonzalez was sprung from jail by a controversial Queens judge - but he could wind up paying for the crime.

This morning, a different judge will determine what damages William Hodges, 32, owes Gonzalez after a civil court found him responsible for leaving the cop injured for life in a struggle over the then-rookie cop's gun in 1999.

"If you shoot a police officer, you have to be held accountable by whatever means possible," said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "If not in the criminal justice system, then in civil cour,t where it will cost you money."

Hodges was released from jail a year ago, after Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne declared he had not been granted the right to a speedy trial.

Last year, the Daily News reported that the judge and the suspect's mother belonged to the same Queens branch of the NAACP, a fact confirmed by the chapter's leader. Sandra Hodges and the judge have denied knowing one other.

Days after Hodges' release last Dec. 6, PBA attorney Gregory Longworth filed a $5 million lawsuit against Hodges citing two causes for damages: that the suspect intentionally shot Gonzalez, and that his actions caused permanent damage.

Gonzalez, 29, was shot through the hip, and the bullet left 15 pieces of shrapnel embedded in his bones and flesh.

"Those fragments will be in his body for the rest of his life," Longworth said. "This condition will deteriorate over time and the pain will get worse."

Hodges - who prosecutors said was a small-time crack dealer at the time of the shooting - could not be reached for comment. His former attorney, Arthur Freidman, is no longer representing him but has said Hodges is working in the construction industry.