Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini (D) and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced the indictment of a Centereach man for allegedly stabbing and critically injuring a police officer following a motor vehicle crash in which the defendant was driving while impaired by methamphetamine.
Jonathan Nunez, 25, is charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, a class B violent felony; Assault in the First Degree, a class B violent felony; Assault on a Police Officer, a class C violent felony; two counts of Assault in the Second Degree, a class D violent felony; Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor; Resisting Arrest, a class A misdemeanor; Leaving the Scene of an Incident Resulting in Physical Injury, a class A misdemeanor; Reckless Driving, a misdemeanor; and Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired by a Drug, a misdemeanor.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on April 10, Nunez was driving a 1999 Mercedes Benz southbound on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue when he was allegedly observed driving erratically with no headlights on by Suffolk County Police 5th Precinct Officer Christopher Racioppo.
Racioppo activated his emergency lights and attempted to pull the vehicle over, at which time Nunez allegedly fled at a high rate of speed and crashed into a 2004 Nissan at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Brook Street.
Nunez allegedly exited his vehicle following the crash and fled on foot into the yard of a nearby residence. Nunez then allegedly became engaged in a physical altercation with Racioppo and stabbed him in the leg, severing his femoral artery and a vein.
Two good Samaritans assisted responding 5th Precinct officers in rendering emergency medical aid to Racioppo and apprehending Nunez.
“This defendant was allegedly high on drugs and driving erratically, and instead of pulling over and complying with lawful commands, he decided to speed through a residential area and ultimately attacked a police officer,” Sini said. “These are all conscious decisions that the defendant made — decisions that put so many peoples’ lives at risk —including Officer Racioppo, who is lucky to be alive thanks to the swift actions of the responding officers, good Samaritans, and the medical professionals at both Long Island Community Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital. I’ll say this clearly and unequivocally: We will do whatever it takes to hold this defendant accountable for his horrific actions.”
Racioppo was transported to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue and then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for the ruptured artery and was in critical condition. He was released from the hospital on April 26.
“Officer Racioppo is thankfully home today, but he has suffered a grave injury that will take a lot of time to come back from,” Commissioner Hart said. “It was a lesson in courage that we saw when Officer Racioppo was viciously attacked and officers came to his rescue without question. I want to thank the District Attorney and his team on behalf of the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department for holding this defendant accountable and bringing him to justice.”
Following the incident, the driver of the Nissan was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Nunez was transported to Long Island Community Hospital.
“The defendant was extremely combative and extremely violent,” Sini said. “At no point did he have any interest in complying with lawful commands by members of the police department, and that behavior continued when he was brought to the hospital, where he was combative with the medical staff as well.”
Nunez was arraigned on the indictment before Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow and was remanded without bail. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society and is due back in court on June 2.
If convicted of the top count, Nunez faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison.