Man Acquitted For Dragging 2 Officers With Car Because He Said He Was Scared

Holly Matkin

Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan acquitted parolee Marcus Prewitt on four assault charges on Feb. 6.

Buffalo, NY – A parolee accused of dragging two police officers with a vehicle as he was fleeing a traffic stop was acquitted of assault charges after his attorney convinced a judge that he was in fear of losing his life when he stomped on the accelerator.

Defense attorney Scott Riordan told the court that his client, 28-year-old convicted felon Marcus Prewitt, “thought he was going to die that night,” The Buffalo News reported. “My client was just terrified.”

Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan agreed that Prewitt was under duress during the traffic stop, and she ultimately acquitted him of assaulting the officers – both of whom had been transported to the hospital due to the injuries they suffered during the attack.

“I'm astonished, shocked, disappointed," Buffalo Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President John Evans told The Buffalo News. "The officers were in fear of their lives…To find him not guilty of anything is just astounding."

The incident began at approximately 3:30 a.m. on April 10, 2019, when Buffalo Police Officer Matthew Cross and Officer Vincent Judge spotted a vehicle parked on the wrong side of Northampton Street.

Officer Judge approached the driver’s side and made contact with Prewitt, who was behind the wheel, while Officer Cross approached the passenger’s side of the car, The Buffalo News reported.

That’s when Officer Cross realized that Prewitt’s passenger, 30-year-old parolee Nicolas Johnson, had a firearm tucked into his waistband.

Officer Cross immediately yanked the door open and began ordering Johnson not to move as a scuffle over the weapon ensued.

“Don't [expletive] move. Don't [expletive] move, dude. I'll blow your [expletive],” the officer said, according to The Buffalo News. “Don't move. You have a gun on you. On your right side.”

Officer Cross ordered Johnson to put his hands on the dashboard and warned him that he would be shot if he didn’t stop fighting for the gun.

“I ain’t got nothing, man!” Johnson repeatedly argued.

“Please don’t shoot,” Prewitt said at one point during the altercation.

As the scuffle continued, Prewitt suddenly hit the accelerator, dragging the officers for approximately 150 feet, police said.

"They were basically attempting to wrestle this gun from this suspect before the driver took off at a high rate of speed," Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo told The Buffalo News. “One officer had his foot run over and one was tossed from the car.”

The officers both suffered abrasions and scrapes, and one had to be stitched up, police said.

“They are pretty banged up,” Capt. Rinaldo said at the time.

Meanwhile, the parolees were arrested by additional officers a short distance away after Prewitt crashed the vehicle, The Buffalo News reported.

Police also recovered the suspect’s firearm, WIVB reported at the time.

Prewitt and Johnson were originally charged with reckless driving, resisting arrest, criminal possession of a weapon, obstructing governmental administration, reckless endangerment, two counts of assault, two counts of attempted assault on a police officer, and two counts of attempted aggravated assault on a police officer, The Buffalo News reported.

On Jan. 30, Johnson pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

Eagan found Prewitt not guilty on four assault charges following a three-day bench trial that concluded on Feb. 6, The Buffalo News reported.

During the trial, Riordan argued that his “terrified” client felt he had no choice but to drive away from the scene because of the officers’ threats that they would shoot if his armed passenger didn’t comply with their orders.

"If you really look at it, any reasonable person in my client's position would believe the officer when he said he would blow his head off,” Riordan told the court.

He said that Eagan “did the right thing” by buying into the duress defense.

“If you look at the duress defense, you can't take away what the police officer was saying,” Riordan told The Buffalo News. “And you can't take away, if you believe my client was afraid, him saying 'Please don't shoot.'"

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said that applying the duress defense in Prewitt’s case was “ridiculous,” and that neither of the officers even drew their weapons during the altercation.

"I respect Judge Eagan, but I respectfully disagree with her decision," Flynn told The Buffalo News. “His defense was that he was under duress, that he was in fear for himself and that's why he took off which is nonsense.”

“This opens the door potentially for other officers to get hurt here,” the district attorney warned.

Flynn said that the officers’ commands reflected the seriousness of the situation.

“In a perfect world, do we want professional language? Sure,” he said. “But I'm not going to fault anyone for using that kind of language with a suspect who has a gun. We're not in church."

Evans said that the Buffalo Police Department’s (BPD) morale has plummeted in the wake of Eagan’s ruling.

“It’s not a good time to be a cop,” the PBA president said.

The only legal matter Prewitt still faces is a parole violation, The Buffalo News reported.

Johnson, who is scheduled to be sentenced by Eagan on March 23, faces 12 years to life in prison on the weapons charge, The Buffalo News reported.

Comments (86)
shooter
shooter

The #WarOnCops continues unabated.

No. 1-22
Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

It makes sense. He threatened to shoot someone who didn't have a gun. If cops can be afraid for their lives with guns and tazers and backup, so can an individual.

I hope this is setting a new precedent. Who immediately throws a door open when you see a gun?

flybynight
flybynight

Hey, it's New York.

Sgt167
Sgt167

Hopefully they appeal this because I don’t think that ruling is based in law. Can’t resist the police when they’re making a lawful arrest or even an unlawful arrest that’s what the courts are for. My god where do these bleeding heart judges come from?

LynnSB
LynnSB

Just absolutely amazing you know wouldn’t be a damn shame if this exact judge that drug around like these officers did not make maybe a little farther I don’t know let’s see how well she fares and let’s see what it does to her stupid ignorant response to it

Bellacat
Bellacat

The war on cops continues and the judges seem all to eager to help by letting the criminals go free.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

#unsafetactics

7 Replies

LEO0301
LEO0301

#andyouknowthisbasedonyourtrainingandexperiencesittingbehindadeskthinkingaboutyournexttaylorswiftsong

cops-kid
cops-kid

You’re right!!! They should have filled their asses with holes without a word

gfc1963
gfc1963

We're safe folks! The expert has spoken. The matter is now closed!!

flybynight
flybynight

Well if that doesn't qualify you then I don't know what does.

SAAM
SAAM

#stillstupid

Quasar704
Quasar704

If your parent is a cop it might be wise of you to stop with this fake bravado and wishing death on people. Karma has this funny way of reading her ugly head and it wouldn’t be fun to receive a folded flag one day.

flybynight
flybynight

Says the expert on "fake bravado" and your buddy blowcom.

buzzard60
buzzard60

I notice that those of you who muddy the water with facts still don't seem to deter non-factual responses from Hi_estComnDenomn. I find occasionally though he does say something that makes one think, not often, but occasionally.

DR226
DR226

Get these female softhearted gullable judges off the bench. Weapon in a motor a vehicle? No permits to possess a firearm? A slew of charges could have been filed but only convicted on attempted possession. SMFH😠

unholyone
unholyone

Does this mean if I'm afraid of the IRS (and I am), I can avoid confrontation with them every year with no penalties? "Being afraid" is a new affirmative defense? UFB.

Pack
Pack

I hope that judge dies at the hands of one of her releases while waiting on the police to get there.

Stanracer
Stanracer

This bleeding heart, hug-a-thug, police hating, liberal judge needs to be fired....forthwith!

kkat
kkat

If that is his reaction to fear, I hope I never end up on a Rollercoaster with that guy!

magnumforc
magnumforc

Is it a requirement to be black to be scared of the police? I believe so since how many times does this happen to other races. Just another bullcrap story on how the justice system has failed us all, especially my brothers and sisters in blue.

gottie
gottie

Why bother to be a Police Officer if these Dumb Judges let the scumbags go 😡

RunCop
RunCop

Lowest common denominators of course

Michael Bryant
Michael Bryant

Judge has no idea about the law are cares about the law.
She should be disbarred and left out in the cold with her new friend... He will do again and maybe kill a officer or someone else. Hey Judge "A FELON", not a 16 year old with out driver a license.
A liberal for sure helping to tear down law and order.😵🤬💩

Diwatson
Diwatson

He was armed and they recovered his weapon. Are there not laws against parolees carrying guns? At the VERY LEAST he should have been charged for that but the judge’s decision has made it open season on pice officers. All you have to do is say you were afraid for your life. She is another left leaning do gooder where everything is peace and love. She has no business being a judge. The perp is probably laughing his face off right about now.

Marxest
Marxest

That's an interesting and exciting development. Im glad Mr Marcus Prewitt was acquitted of those trumped up charges of assaulting those officers. The fact that Mr Prewitt said "please don't shoot" clearly shows that he feared for his life and that these officers were clearly threatening lethal force against both men. I can understand why he would drive off like that. The Judge Susan Eagan made a clear and fair ruling based on the behavior and mindsets of everyone involved in that incident. This isn't a ruling that supports a fictitious "war on cops" or some other anti police nonsense that the right falsely purports. It was a good ruling that showed sympathy for a man caught in a bad situation that was exacerbated by two overly belligerent officers. Mr Prewitt's actions were a reaction to fear, not a premeditated attack on law enforcement officers. Its unfortunate that the two officers sustained those injuries, but those are the dangers of the job.

J1956
J1956

Yon can thank dickless Governor Cuomo.......

Offended
Offended

Someone should drag that bitch behind a car or put her in a room with a someone released without bail

Inquirer63
Inquirer63

Pure insanity on the part of the judge.


News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY