A Jamaica man could be facing more than 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault for dragging an NYPD officer as he sped away from a traffic stop in July 2017.
Joel Burnett, 40, of 157th Street, also pleaded guilty to identity theft for using the name and birthdate of an autistic man for 19 years.
“In pleading guilty, the defendant admitted to intentionally using his vehicle as a weapon against a police officer who was doing his job when he and his partner observed the defendant run a stop sign,” Chief Assistant District Attorney John Ryan said in a statement issued by his office. “The defendant refused — when ordered — to exit his vehicle and instead stepped on the gas. One of the police officers was dragged and sustained serious injuries as a result of the defendant’s actions.”
In the second case, Ryan said, Burnett, who came to the United States from his native Jamaica in July 2000, stole the identity of an autistic man living in a group home.
According to the charges, on the afternoon of July 26, 2017, officers from the 103rd Precinct saw Burnett run a stop sign in a black Nissan Maxima in the vicinity of 110th Avenue in Jamaica and pulled him over.
Burnett produced a U.S. Virgin Island’s driver’s license in the name of the autistic man.
When police asked the defendant to step out of the vehicle, Burnett refused and stepped on the gas. One of the officers was dragged along with the moving vehicle. When the defendant’s car collided with another vehicle, Burnett jumped out but the injured officer was able to free himself from the vehicle and arrest him.
As a result of being dragged for two city blocks, the officer required treatment for multiple injuries, including bruising and a fractured knee.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Ira Margulis indicated that he will sentence Burnett to 13 1/2 years in prison for the first-degree assault followed by five years of supervised release when he is sentenced on April 2. An 18- to 36-month sentence for identity theft will be served concurrently.