February 5, 2004
By MICHELE McPHEE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
Off-duty cops are expected to jam a Queens courtroom today when a man who beat charges of shooting a police officer is arraigned for another alleged attack on a cop.
William Hodges, 32, is set to be formally charged with biting Officer Benedict Vitale's leg in Jamaica Hospital's emergency room in July. The incident came just months after Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne released him on charges he shot then-rookie cop David Gonzalez in 1999.
"He should be in jail now forthe attempted murder of a police officer," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "I was perplexed by [Blackburne's] decision."
The judge determined Hodges' right to a speedy trial had been violated, a ruling Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is appealing. Weeks before his release, the Daily News reported that Blackburne and Hodges' mother were in the same Jamaica, Queens, branch of the NAACP.
Kelly's outrage at Hodges' release was echoed by police union officials.
"If this thug Hodges was in jail as he clearly should be, he wouldn't have had the chance to assault another cop," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.