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DA charges Jamaica man in biting of police officer

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About 20 off-duty officers filled the courtroom in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens last Thursday when William Hodges, 32, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, a spokeswoman for Brown said.

Warren Silverman, Hodges' lawyer, did not return calls for comment.

The July 26 incident was believed to have started inside the emergency room at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center when Hodges thought he and his mother were waiting too long for treatment and he became upset. Hodges started shouting and cursing, according to a criminal complaint.

A police officer tried to calm Hodges down, but the complaint said he only became more enraged, threatening to beat up the officer.

The dispute continued outside the hospital as more officers arrived, and Hodges allegedly bit Officer Benedict Vitale in the right thigh, the complaint said.

Hodges was also kicking and flailing his arms as the officer tried to arrest him, and held onto the hood of a police car to avoid being handcuffed, the criminal complaint said. He also ripped a windshield wiper off a police car, the document said.

Hodges is out on $10,000 bail, and faces seven years in prison if convicted.

In 1999, Hodges was accused of shooting Officer David Gonzalez, then assigned to the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica, in the leg. Gonzalez, who has since been promoted to detective, was responding to a domestic dispute call at 114-05 170th St. when he met Hodges in the hallway of the building. Hodges was accused of trying to grab Gonzalez's gun when it discharged, hitting the officer in the left leg, the Queens district attorney said.

Hodges was charged with attempted murder and a litany of other charges, but he was freed when State Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne ruled in December 2002 he had been denied his right to a speedy trial.

At the time, there were questions about whether Blackburne knew Hodges' mother through the Jamaica branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Blackburne's decision drew outrage from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association whose members filled the courtroom then as they did last week.

"He was allowed to go free because of a judge who has questionable connections to the defendant," said Al O'Leary, spokesman for the PBA. "It's just a matter of time before he hurts a member of the public and we feel we have to do everything we can to stop him. This thug should not be allowed on the streets of New York."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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