A man who was arrested and shot by police earlier this month after fleeing a traffic stop and reportedly dragging an officer in pursuit was arraigned Friday on additional assault and drunken driving charges in Suffolk County.
The Holtsville resident was shot in the shoulder by a yet unidentified Suffolk police officer in Medford, after the stop in Patchogue led to a pursuit of about 3 1⁄2 miles. His blood-alcohol level was later found to be nearly three times above .08, the legal blood-alcohol limit while driving, according to prosecutors.
Michael Shear, dressed in a short sleeve green jumpsuit, his left arm in a sling, listened quietly as the charges for second-degree assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated were brought at the Riverhead court complex by the office of District Attorney Thomas Spota.
“The defendant was pulled over for speeding” and displayed “multiple indicia of intoxication,” said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, adding Shear refused to follow orders and fled, and he “dragged the officer approximately 35 to 40 feet” as captured in surveillance video.
He then led police on a chase as fast as 80 mph in a 40-mph zone, Kurtzrock said. Shear was “shot once in his left shoulder” as he again failed to follow police commands.
Shear’s attorney, Steve Politi, challenged the validity of the charges, questioned the official account and jostled with the judge as he sought to have bail lowered. He complained about cops in the case not showing up to a hearing about his client’s alcohol test and said the official story had changed as charges were added.
Politi sought to keep the focus on the shooting, rather than the incidents leading to it.
Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow set bail at $125,000 cash or $300,000 bond, lower than the $150,000 cash bail sought by the prosecutor.
“My contention is that were there not a shooting of my client that more reasonable bail would have been asked by the district attorney’s office and the judge would have set much, much lower bail,” Politi said outside the courtroom. “In my opinion he’s being punished for being shot.”
Politi had previously pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf to a felony charge of first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle; and misdemeanors for second-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle.
Politi asked last week for the state attorney general to investigate the shooting, but a representative for that office said it did not have jurisdiction to unilaterally take the case. Kurtzrock said the shooting remained under investigation.
Authorities say Shear, 34, dragged the highway patrol cop who ended up shooting him as he fled from the traffic stop, which occurred at 2:38 a.m. on the corner of Waverly Avenue and the eastbound Sunrise Service Road in Patchogue, police and prosecutors said.
Shear, stopped on suspicion of drunken driving, drove off after the stop, dragging the officer. Several police cars joined a pursuit, which ended on North Ocean Avenue in Medford. A prosecutor said Shear was shot when he failed to obey the officer’s commands.
Shear was found to have a blood alcohol content level of 0.22 in a test taken about an hour after he was shot. The New York legal limit is 0.08 for alcohol in the blood while driving. Shear, a steamfitter, has been charged four times before for driving while intoxicated and he has not had a valid license since 2004, according to a prosecutor. There were several testy exchanges at Friday’s hearing between Politi and Braslow over the interpretation of facts, with the judge reminding the defense lawyer “we’re not trying the case” at arraignment.
Politi insisted the requested bail was too high and the judge should consider the history in these kind of cases. “I look at your client’s history. It doesn’t impress me,” Braslow said. “He’s been a danger to the community.”
“You know who else is a danger to the community? The officer opening fire on my client,” Politi replied.
Kurtzrock contended that the higher bail request was justified in an incident where “he hurt a police officer and almost killed him.”