Dozens of Nassau police officers packed a Mineola courtroom Friday as the man accused of firing gunshots at some of them after fleeing an October traffic stop pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges.
Authorities said Duane Costa, 37, of Uniondale, faces up to 25 years to life behind bars if found guilty of the top charge against him — and also could face consecutive sentencing.
He remained handcuffed in Nassau County Court for his arraignment, sitting next to his appointed attorney while maintaining his innocence to first- and second-degree attempted murder counts, along with several weapon charges.
Prosecutor Jared Rosenblatt told acting State Supreme Court Justice William O'Brien that Costa fired two volleys of gunshots at police during an Oct. 28 foot pursuit in Hempstead that began when Costa pushed an officer and ran from a traffic stop.
The defendant dropped a gun at the beginning of the chase, and began firing at two police officers with a different gun, Rosenblatt said.
Police continued to chase Costa, who then opened fire on two more officers, according to the prosecutor, who said none of the law enforcement officers was hit by the bullets.
None of the officers opened fire, according to the district attorney's office.
Police set up a perimeter and found Costa "cowardly hiding" in a backyard, according to Rosenblatt. The prosecutor also said Friday that police recovered both guns, along with the jacket Costa had been wearing during the incident and ditched in the area.
The prosecutor said Costa, who was on supervised release after a 2011 federal robbery conviction, later made a "pathetic attempt to explain his actions" by telling authorities he didn't want to be caught because of his release status.
Rosenblatt said Costa has three prior felony convictions, including for robbery and attempted burglary.
Defense attorney Lori Golombek told the judge that she would reserve the right to make a bail application for her client at a later court date.
The judge then remanded Costa to jail without bail.
John Wighaus, who heads the detectives' union for Nassau police, said after the arraignment that the presence of several dozen officers in court was to show unity with those who could have lost their lives.
"The officers were very lucky that they survived. And after the person was shooting at them, they continued to chase and ultimately they caught him," Wighaus said, adding that police want "to see that justice is served."