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Queens man arraigned in state trooper dragging case

State Police investigate an incident in which a

State Police investigate an incident in which a state trooper was dragged when this car took off during a traffic stop Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, on the eastbound Southern State Parkway in Lakeview. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Queens man who authorities say fled with a state trooper hanging onto his vehicle after a traffic stop was arraigned Thursday in Nassau on felony assault and other charges.

Kyheem J. Kelly, 29, had been pulled over on the Southern State Parkway in Lakeview Wednesday afternoon by Trooper Jean Dhaiti on suspicion of texting while driving.

But Kelly took off in his Honda, dragging the officer across all three lanes of the eastbound Southern State, a Nassau prosecutor said at Kelly’s arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead.

Dhaiti was treated at a hospital and his injuries are not considered life-threatening, according to police.

“He got stitches in his forehead. He’s not doing too bad,” a woman who identified herself as Dhaiti’s mother said Thursday afternoon. She said Dhaiti is home recovering.

Kelly, of Jamaica, Queens, was arraigned on charges of assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon, second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation.

Nassau District Court Judge Scott Siller set bail at $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash. Kelly is scheduled to return to court Tuesday.

His attorney, John F. Campbell III of Mineola, told the judge that his client, a lifelong resident of Queens, is father of a 7-year-old child. Kelly has worked at Kennedy Airport for the last decade and just received a promotion Monday, Campbell said.

“This is an aberration for Mr. Kelly to be standing here before your honor,” he said.

Outside court, Campbell declined to say why Kelly might have fled over a traffic stop.

“At this point I have no comment on that,” Campbell said. “We’ll investigate the case. We’ll be able to talk to him a little more thoroughly, and we’ll take it from there.”

Dhaiti had stopped Kelly about 3 p.m. just west of Exit 19, Peninsula Boulevard, after seeing him drive and text on his cellphone, officials said.

Kelly had a suspended license and his insurance had lapsed about five months ago, which then negated his vehicle registration, police said.

Kelly’s grandfather, Richard Kelly, expressed concern for the trooper and said his grandson had never been in trouble with the law before.

“He’s a good kid,” he said in an interview after the arraignment. “He’s a hardworking kid.”

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