Man pleads not guilty in crash injuring cop
Louie Blanton, 24, pleaded not guilty before Nassau County Judge Jerald Carter to upgraded charges of aggravated assault of a police officer, first- and second-degree assault, leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries and other charges. He faces 10 to 25 years if convicted because of his status as a prior violent felony offender, prosecutors said.
Carter ordered him held on $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash bail. He is due back in court Aug. 22.
Blanton's lawyer, Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City, said his client maintains his innocence.
"We are confident that when the trial gets done, he will be found not to be the driver of the vehicle," Lo Piccolo said outside court.
Police have said the officer first tried to pull Blanton over on Broadway in Massapequa after responding to a call of a suspicious car. They said witnesses had seen two people replacing license plates on the vehicle in North Massapequa.
The driver then fled into oncoming traffic entering the Southern State Parkway heading eastbound. Prosecutors said Blanton slammed on his brakes near Exit 32 in Farmingdale, forcing the pursuing officer to swerve out of the way. The officer lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the guardrail, bounced out into traffic, and was hit by another vehicle.
Blanton then fled the scene, prosecutors said. He was arrested on Feb. 29 after a police investigation and has been held in jail since then.
Prosecutors said the officer, a 20-year veteran on the force with young children, suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured spine, collapsed lung, fractured ribs and fractures to her sternum, collarbone, shoulder blade and nasal bone. She remains unable to work since the November accident.
"Police officers risk everything to protect and serve our communities, and this crash shows just how dangerous the job can be," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
James Carver, who heads the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, attended the arraignment with about two dozen other officers.
"We all understand that that could have been us in that car," he said.