Stiffer Charges For Gun Thug

By Thomas Tracy

A Flatbush man who allegedly blazed away at cops with an Uzi was officially indicted under the state’s new Crimes Against Police Act Wednesday. During a press conference with Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes at the D.A.’s Jay Street offices, local legislators and union officials cheered the indictment of Damien Henry, who was charged with the new Attempted Aggravated Murder and Menacing of a Police Officer. Under the new legislation hammered out in Albany, Henry is facing a stiffer jail sentence if convicted of shooting at two cops following a botched robbery at the Rag Top Lounge on Utica Avenue. According to police and published reports, the 24-year-old and an unknown accomplice showed up at the bar with an Uzi to rob the club at 4:30 a.m. on January 21. Workers at the nightclub managed to throw down the security gates just before Henry could enter and called police. As plainclothes officers from the 67th Precinct arrived, Henry ran away, firing at the officers from over his shoulder as he made his escape. Cops returned fire, striking Henry multiple times in the leg, torso and groin in front of 1263 Utica Avenue officials said. Henry was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was listed in serious but stable condition. No cops were injured during the exchange of gunfire. Police recovered a fully loaded 9-mm Uzi machine pistol equipped with a collapsible stock. Investigators are currently trying to track down just where Henry obtained the gun. Henry, who was arrested for the 2002 shooting of a rookie police officer in the arm but later acquitted, was out on $50,000 bail for opening fire on an East Flatbush restaurateur last summer when he traded shots with police, said officials. Police said that the shell casings recovered from the shooting in August matched those found in the shooting of Police Officer Dillon Stewart, who was gunned down by 27-year-old Allan Cameron last November. Cops also determined that Cameron was on the lam for shooting an off-duty cop during a robbery in Crown Heights. Cameron is currently sitting in a jail cell, charged with murder in the first degree. Police believe that Henry had the gun before giving it to Cameron. Following public outcry and sobering statistics which show that more police officers were shot in New York this year than any year since 1997, Governor George Pataki called for the Assembly and Senate to get together and take a stand. The end result was stricter penalties against gun traffickers and those who shoot police officers. Under the new law, those found guilty of murdering of a police officer are guaranteed life without parole. The previous law stipulated that the defendant received a minimum of 20 years unless the sentencing judge said otherwise. Penalties were also increased for the crime of attempted murder of a police officer. When once one could face only 15 to 25 years, the new law will demand a sentence of 20 to 40 years, officials said. “Some crimes are so terrible that the people who commit them need to be taken off the streets for the rest of their lives,” said Hynes, joined by Assemblyman Joe Lentol, State Senator Martin Golden and NYPD Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. “Anyone who fires a gun at a police officer must know that he is going to face serious prison time, and this new law ensures Damion Henry will spend a long time behind bars.” “As a former NYC police officer, I have looked into the eyes of would-be cop-killers and attended the funerals of many friends and colleagues,” said Golden, who drafted the Crimes Against Police Act. “Officers risk their lives everyday, and those who threaten their safety should know that the law-abiding citizens of New York will no longer tolerate such heinous crimes. These new, harsher penalties recently adopted will bring an end to such recidivism and will make safer all law enforcement officers.”

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