The Huntington Station man convicted of attempted murder of a police officer was sentenced in Riverhead on Monday morning to 55 years to life in prison, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.
A jury convicted Sheldon Leftenant, 23, of attempted aggravated murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest on Jan. 26. On Monday, a judge sentenced him to 40 years to life on the attempted murder charge and 15 years to life on the weapons charge.
Spota said he was pleased with the sentence for Leftenant, who authorities have said is a member of the “Tip Top Boyz” street gang.
“I think the judge said it best, that this is a man who deserves absolutely no mercy,” he said. “He has no regard for human life. He certainly, on the evening of this occurrence, had no regard for the life of police officer [Mark] Collins and he deserved the maximum. I hope and I trust that he spends every single day of the remainder of his life in jail because that is where he belongs.”
Just before midnight on March 12, 2015, Collins, a 13-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department, pulled over a speeding car in which Leftenant was a passenger near Mercer Court in Huntington Station. Collins, a plainclothes member of the 2nd Precinct gang unit, ordered Leftenant to exit the vehicle before the suspect started running, forcing the officer to chase him. Collins deployed his Taser twice on Leftenant, hitting him in the back. As the officer tried to handcuff the man, unaware of his suspect’s weapon, there was a struggle and Leftenant shot Collins twice — once in the neck and once in the hip.
Leftenant fled and was soon apprehended.
Collins survived the gunshot wounds. From the courthouse, he reacted to the Huntington Station man’s sentencing.
“I’m just happy to be here and be back to work and live a healthy life again,” Collins said.
He thanked everyone from his fellow officers to the staff at Stony Brook University Hospital for their help and support.
“I still have some lingering side effects but I am not going to let them hold me back. I have a whole different outlook on life, and a lot of things mean a lot more to me these days and I am happy to be here.”
He also said he was satisfied with Leftenant’s sentence.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said the case highlights the importance of the county supporting their law enforcement officials.
“Suffolk County will not stand for violence against our law enforcers,” he said after the sentencing. “It is that simple.”
Leftenant’s wife Angelica said she believes her husband did not have a fair chance in the case, saying that despite the verdict, he is not guilty.
“Sheldon Leftenant is innocent and we will prove that in an appeal,” she said. “Sheldon will be walking home on an appeal. I laughed [when I heard he was sentenced to 55 years] because he’s coming home. My husband will be walking home next to me. [The] case is going to be dropped.”
Robert Biancavilla, the deputy homicide bureau chief within the DA’s office, disagreed.
“Mr. Leftenant could not have been given a more fair trial in this case,” he said. “Everyone basically bent over backward to ensure that all of his rights were guarded and that he received a fair trial. The evidence against Mr. Leftenant was overwhelming and he to this day refused to acknowledge that or take responsibility for it.”