Troopers on Patrol
On February 3, 2016, Trooper Shannon J. Saunders was working an F12 tour out of SP High Peaks. At approximately 11:48 PM, Trooper Saunders observed a black Toyota Camry with New York Livery plates move unsafely from its lane on Interstate 87 north in the town of Elizabethtown. Trooper Saunders observed a male operator, a female passenger, and an infant in the back seat. After initiating a traffic stop, Trooper Saunders interviewed the male operator, who identified himself. Trooper Saunders inquired as to where they were coming from and where they were going. The male operator stated that he was taking his female passenger to a doctoR's appointment in New York City, and indicated that they both work for a taxi company.
Trooper Saunders began to interview the passenger when he noticed hypodermic needles sticking out from underneath the infant's coat, which was laying at the female passenger's feet. She could not explain where the needles came from and gave Trooper Saunders consent to search the vehicle. When she stepped out of the vehicle he observed a wax paper envelope, consistent with the packaging of heroin, on the seat. At this point, Trooper Matthew X. Carniglia, SP Lewis, arrived on the scene with K-9 Keene. Troopers Carniglia and Saunders began to search the suspects, when Trooper Saunders observed the female drop a small cosmetic bag to the ground. Trooper Saunders noticed a clear plastic bag containing 90 wax envelopes, which later tested positive for heroin. The female was placed under arrest. While Trooper Carniglia and K-9 Keene conducted a search of the taxi, the female passenger told Trooper Saunders that the operator of the vehicle had given him a fictitious name. Troopers Saunders asked the male suspect what his real name was, and he responded with his correct name and DOB. The suspect stated he had a suspended license and was on Federal Parole. The suspects, with the infant, were brought back to SP Lewis for processing. While at SP Lewis, Trooper Erica L. Riemersma, SP Lewis, located on the female suspect a small plastic bag containing 5.0 grams of cocaine. Troop B Narcotics Enforcement Unit Investigator Abby Braunius was advised and responded to SP Lewis. Both suspects gave voluntary statements.
The female suspect was charged with 2 counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd Degree, Criminal Possession of Hypodermic Needles, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The male subject was charged with 2 counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Criminal Impersonation, and numerous Vehicle and Traffic Laws. Both subjects were arraigned in the Town of Elizabeth Justice Court. The female subject was remanded to Essex County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash/$50,000 bond. The male subject was remanded to Essex County Jail without bail. The infant, who was the female subject's daughter, was turned over to her grandmother without incident.
Trooper Saunders, who was nearing the end of his shift, looked beyond a traffic ticket and took dangerous drugs off the street, and safely removed an innocent child from a dangerous situation.
On January 26, 2016, at 9:22 PM, Trooper Agnieszka T. Dembinska, SP Ithaca, was dispatched by Tompkins County 911 Center to a property damage accident reported near 12 Pond Drive, in the town of Dryden, Tompkins County, NY. Upon arrival at the scene, Trooper Dembinska observed a damaged black Subaru Forester off the road with the front tires over a culvert and the driver side door open, keys in the ignition, and no one in the area. Trooper Dembinska interviewed a neighbor who heard the crash from her residence and approached the vehicle to observe a bearded male operator attempting to remove the vehicle from the culvert. The neighbor asked if he needed assistance, but the male driver ran off abandoning the vehicle.
Trooper Dembinska contacted the registered owner of the vehicle, and the 53-year-old male who resided in Tioga County stated he was sleeping and was unaware that his keys or vehicle were taken. He verified that the vehicle was missing from his driveway where he had parked it earlier that afternoon and had no idea who had taken it.
At approximately 11:45 PM, two hours after receiving the initial motor vehicle accident complaint, Tompkins County 911 Center advised that a white male subject matching the description of the driver from the earlier accident, had just entered a residence looking for a man, but he was unknown to the residents. The suspect was described as a white male with a beard and mustache and was wearing very muddy clothes. The unknown male was chased from the residence.
Shortly after, Trooper Mary G. Gehen, SP Ithaca, advised she located a male subject on Kirk Road near State Route 13 in the town of Dryden, who matched the description of the man involved in the two 911 complaints. Trooper Dembinska arrived at Trooper Gehen's location and noted that the male, who was bearded, was dressed in blue jeans and a heavy camouflage sweatshirt, was soaking wet, and covered in mud. Upon interviewing the male suspect, identified as the 24-year-old son of the vehicle's registered owner, he stated he did not know how he arrived at the current location and that he was not driving the damaged Subaru in question. Trooper Dembinska asked the man if he had been drinking to which he replied that he had not. Trooper Dembinska observed the male suspect having an odor of alcohol emanating from his breath, blood shot and watery eyes, slurred speech and had trouble maintaining balance throughout the interview. The male suspect was advised he was under arrest for driving while intoxicated.
As Trooper Dembinska was preparing to handcuff the male suspect, he broke free and began to run from both members. Trooper Dembinska warned the running suspect of her intent to deploy her taser. Trooper Dembinska deployed her taser with one probe successfully hitting the male in the right shoulder, causing the male to drop to the ground. He rolled around on the ground, breaking contact with the taser wires and probe. As the suspect attempted to rise to his feet and continue his escape, he was grabbed by Trooper Gehen, who was attempting to gain control. Trooper Dembinska deployed the second cartridge, as the suspect was not complying with Trooper Gehen's attempts to take him into custody or her verbal commands. Trooper Dembinska joined in with Trooper Gehen, and both members gained control and compliance from the suspect and placed him in custody. He was then transported to SP Ithaca for processing where he refused to provide a breath sample. A check of the suspect's criminal history revealed he had a prior Aggravated DWI conviction, a prior Driving While Intoxicated conviction, and was currently on probation which required he operate only motor vehicles with an ignition interlock device. He was charged with Felony DWI, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 3rd Degree, Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test, Operating a Vehicle without an Ignition Interlock Device, Resisting Arrest, Criminal Trespassing 2nd Degree, Obstructing Governmental Administration in the 2nd Degree, and several Vehicle and Traffic Law infractions. He was arraigned in the Lansing Town Court and remanded to Tompkins County Jail on $2,000 cash bail or $4,000 property bond to reappear in the Dryden Town Court at a later date.
Troopers Dembinska and Gehen are commended for their investigative skill, attention to details, and the ability to locate, detain, and arrest a combative suspect who made his fateful intentions clear to anyone he had contact with that evening. Besides using resources and tools at their disposal, Troopers Dembinska and Gehen had to employ various defensive tactics and techniques to gain control and make an arrest of a violent man after he committed several crimes.