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Suspect charged in cop assault

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Walter Hurdle, of North Cloverfield Road in Valley Stream, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of assaulting Sgt. John Pagnotta of the 113th Precinct last Thursday on Sutphin Boulevard, Brown said.A spokesman for Brown said Queens Criminal Court Judge Gene Lopez set Hurdle's bail at $500,000. Hurdle is due back in court on Feb. 2, the spokesman said.The incident began around 8:25 p.m. last Thursday after officers allegedly observed Hurdle sitting bent over in the driver's seat of his 2001 GMC Denali near the corner of 122nd Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. According to police, it appeared that Hurdle was rolling a joint.Pagnotta then approached the vehicle and asked Hurdle for his license, Brown said. Hurdle allegedly could not produce a license and when the door to his car was opened, police allegedly observed a joint fall to the floor of the car. Hurdle was then asked to step out of the car, but instead he sped off with Pagnotta caught inside the door, according to Brown.Brown said officers at the scene have said Hurdle crashed into a parked patrol car, pinning Pagnotta between the two vehicles. Hurdle eventually got away, but Pagnotta was thrown into oncoming traffic and was nearly hit by a car on Sutphin Boulevard, Brown and police said.Brown said Pagnotta suffered a broken pelvis, several broken ribs, a fractured backbone and a dislocated shoulder. He was in stable condition Friday, according to police.Hurdle's car was recovered a few blocks away and allegedly contained what appeared to be a "marijuana cigarette," Brown said.Police officers were unable to detain Hurdle last Thursday, but the suspect eventually turned himself in at the 113th Precinct on Baisley Boulevard Friday afternoon. Selvena Brooks, a spokeswoman for state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), said a member of Hurdle's family called Smith's office to seek guidance on the situation. Smith eventually agreed to meet Hurdle and his family at Allen A.M.E. Cathedral and escorted the suspect to the precinct along with Hurdle's attorney, Robert Aiello, Brooks said. Rev. Floyd Flake also accompanied Hurdle to the precinct house. Flake described Hurdle as a "good Christian."Speaking outside the precinct, Aiello essentially offered no comment."We're not going to discuss what he's saying right now," Aiello told reporters, adding: "His story will come out." Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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