Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Tuesday he will seek the maximum sentence -- 50 years in prison -- on the top charges that two men face in the Huntington hit-and-run last month that left a police officer critically injured.
Spota said he believes the state has a strong case because driver Chad Morizsan, 34, and passenger Nicholas Franzone, 22, both of Northport, were captured several times on video.
The defendants were arraigned on an indictment before State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip on 28 counts -- including vehicular assault, grand larceny and robbery -- in the Sept. 22 case in which Officer Nicholas Guerrero, 36, was run down during a stop. His partner, Heriberto Lugo, suffered minor injuries.
Guerrero suffered a head injury, underwent surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he remains, Spota said. He said Tuesday Guerrero shows signs of improvement.
At Tuesday's arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli told the court the events leading to Morizsan's and Franzone's arrests began Sept. 20, when Morizsan stole a 2014 Ford Explorer. Two days later, police spotted Morizsan driving the stolen vehicle.
After Guerrero was hit, Borelli said, Morizsan eluded a marked police car pursuing them and drove to a gas station in East Northport, where Franzone pumped gas before they fled. Morizsan then caused a collision, Borelli said, and carjacked a Toyota from a woman.
Outside court, Morizsan's brother, Shawn McAllister, 46, said he had told police they might find his brother in Central Islip. "I didn't feel great about it, but I felt like . . . they might do something bad."
The pair were arrested after they stopped to buy a TV in Central Islip with a stolen credit card, Borelli said.
"They had the audacity to use one of the stolen credit cards to buy a TV," Borelli said at the arraignment.
He said the two went so far as to try to disguise themselves, one by changing clothes and the other by acting as an employee, after noticing a growing police presence outside the store.
McAllister's information was not influential in making the arrest, a police spokeswoman said Tuesday.
McAllister, a former Greenlawn firefighter also from Northport, said he feels sorry for the injured officer and has prayed every day that he recovers.
He said Morizsan has been troubled for some time.
"He's been out in the streets for a while," McAllister said. "He's been doing bad stuff every day, and it's a shame that it turned out that way."
Earlier on Sept. 22, Guerrero and Lugo were watching a home on Partridge Lane in search of Morizsan, who was wanted on several outstanding warrants, according to a supplementary report signed by Lugo.
Morizsan's girlfriend then entered the Explorer before the officers pulled in front of it. Lugo approached the car on the driver's side, while Guerrero went to the passenger's side.
Guerrero was hit when, Lugo said, Morizsan put the car in drive and headed west.