BY SCOTT SHIFREL DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Apr. 25, 2006 -- It took six years, but a cop who was shot in the leg and still carries 25 pieces of shrapnel in his body finally got to see the suspect packed off to prison.
The road to justice was long and winding for Detective David Gonzalez, who had to endure a judge with an anti-police reputation setting defendant Williams Hodges free on a technicality several years ago.
But Gonzalez was all smiles yesterday as a new judge sentenced Hodges to 25 years behind bars for the 1996 shooting.
"I couldn't be happier," Gonzalez said. "I feel like I can finally move on with my life."
A Queens jury convicted Hodges, 33, of assault and other charges last month for drunkenly struggling with the cop in the stairwell of a Queens apartment building.
Gonzalez's own 9-mm. Glock went off during the struggle, the bullet shattering his hip.
Hodges nearly dodged a bullet of his own in 2002 when Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne, a friend of his mother, ruled he had been denied a speedy trial.
While he was free, Hodges was busted for biting another officer and convicted of assault.
Blackburne's decision was eventually overturned. She is suspended while appealing a state recommendation she be removed from the bench for allowing a suspect in her courtroom to evade cops.
Police packed yesterday's sentencing, where Hodges' lawyer tried to blame the Gonzalez shooting on alcohol - an excuse swiftly dismissed by Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter.
"The disarming and shooting of a uniformed police officer ... is a brazen and shocking crime and an affront to the very fabric of an orderly society," the judge said.
NYPD representatives were gleeful about the hard line. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch said the Gonzalez case showed Blackburne's "anti-police bias."
The only words of encouragement for Hodges came from his mother. "Keep your head up man," she called out. "We will appeal." She then shouted about the "crooked a-- system" as she fled the courtroom.
Gonzalez, who was promoted to detective after the shooting and whose wife had a baby boy two weeks ago, was given a standing ovation by his fellow cops after she left.
With Alison Gendar