The Holtsville man shot in the shoulder by a Suffolk County police officer who was dragged by the suspect’s car during a traffic stop had a blood-alcohol content of almost three times the legal limit about an hour after the shooting, according to prosecutors.
Michael Shear, 34, who has been charged for DWI four times since 2004, had a BAC of .22 when his blood was taken via a warrant at Stony Brook University Hospital about an hour after the officer shot him in the left shoulder in Medford, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.
He refused a blood test and prosecutors successfully sought a warrant to get his blood, Kurtzrock said. The legal limit for alcohol consumption for drivers in New York State is .08.
Shear, shackled at the ankles and in a wheelchair, cried periodically at his arraignment in a hospital conference room Tuesday before Judge Stephen Ukeiley, who set a bail of $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash.
Shear, who according to a hospital spokeswoman is listed in good condition, faces 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison if convicted on the top count of felony drunken driving with a prior conviction within 10 years, prosecutors said.
Shear’s attorney, Steven Politi, pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf to the charges, which include first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a felony; and misdemeanors of second-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle.
“There’s nothing to indicate that he was a threat to anybody,” said Politi, who said his client was unarmed during the encounter and was not a flight risk. Politi asked for Shear to be released without bail, or substantially lower than was set.
Police have yet to say whether Shear was armed.
The incident began at 2:38 a.m. on Sunday when the officer, whose name has not been released, in a marked patrol car pulled Shear over for speeding in Patchogue, Kurtzrock said.
The officer noticed Shear appeared intoxicated and asked him to step out of the vehicle, but Shear refused and turned his vehicle’s engine back on, Kurtzrock said.
The officer had his arm in the driver’s side of the vehicle and apparently got caught in the vehicle when Shear, who “nearly ran him over,” drove off, dragging the officer for several feet, Kurtzrock said.
The officer was able to get back into his patrol car and along with several other police cars then pursued Shear for over three miles to North Ocean Avenue, just south of Long Island Avenue in Medford, hitting speeds of up to 80 mph in a 45 mph zone, Kurtzrock said.
The pursuing police cars were able to “box in” Shear’s vehicle and it finally stopped, Kurtzrock said, adding that Shear’s vehicle struck one of the officer’s cars before stopping.
At that point, Shear “failed to obey the officer’s commands,” Kurtzrock said.
“During the attempt to arrest the defendant, it was necessary for the officer to shoot him,” Kurtzrock said, adding that the details of what happened right before the shooting are under investigation by both the police department and the district attorney’s office, which probes all police-involved shootings.
Police have said Shear was in his vehicle and had no physical contact in the moments right before the shooting.
Kurtzrock said the case will be reviewed by a grand jury on Friday and Shear could face more charges relating to the officer’s injuries, which the prosecutor said he did not have details on. Police have said the officer had injuries to his right shoulder, arm and a hip.
In the ambulance on his way to the hospital, Shear “admitted to consuming alcohol,” Kurtzrock said.
Shear, who is a steamfitter, has been charged four times before for DWI and has not had a valid license since 2004, Kurtzrock said. His first arrest for DWI was in 2004 and he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired. Then Shear pleaded guilty in 2005 to DWI and attempted menacing in second degree after he was accused of driving drunk and firing four shots from a BB gun at another vehicle in a road-rage incident, Kurtzrock said.
In 2007, Shear was convicted of DWI and was sentenced to 10 months in jail, Kurtzrock said.
Politi questioned why prosecutors didn’t present all the details of the incident — including the officer’s name and details of the injuries and where his client was at the time he was shot — and questioned the police department’s ability to fairly handle the case, invoking former Suffolk Chief of Department James Burke, serving 46 months in federal prison for beating a suspect and orchestrating a cover-up.
Politi, of Central Islip, said: “This is a county where the police chief, former police chief is in prison, federal prison. This is a county where they don’t have body cams. It’s a highly secretive county. They’re doing everything they can to keep every aspect of this secret from the public because they don’t want people to feel that there’s a chance that they’re going to get shot when they’re unarmed and sitting in their car.”
Kurtzrock said prosecutors have not received any discovery demands from Politi.
“There’s no hiding of anything,” Kurtzrock said. “There’s no cover-up involved.”