Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thank God They're OK

It has been a hellish stretch of road for our brothers in the NY State Police. One Trooper narrowly escaped death in the following incident as reported in the Post Standard. It happened yesterday:


Ronald E. McCarthy, of Granby, had already rammed his minivan into a trooper's SUV, attacked him with a 4-by-4 and fought through pepper spray, according to police. Now the 250-pound man had state police Sgt. Joseph Domagola pinned against a roadside guiderail, pressing the trooper's pistol against the back of Domagola's head, witnesses told state police.

"Oh, my God! No! Don't do it!" shouted a woman driving by, according to one witness.

By chance, the .45-caliber Glock malfunctioned.

With the help of another officer and passers-by, Domagola wrestled McCarthy to the ground and handcuffed him, witnesses said. McCarthy, 45, of 250 state Route 48, is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, attempted aggravated assault of a police officer and menacing a police officer, all felonies.

This is where you got to suck it up, wrestling on the side of a country road with a maniac trying kill you with your own gun. This is the stuff cop nightmares are made of.

The drama began at about 5 a.m. Saturday when state police got a call asking them to respond to a suspicious fire at the McCarthy residence, said Maj. Frank J. DeGennaro, the commander of state police Troop D.

The home was severely damaged. State police Investigator Scott Harrington interviewed McCarthy, who said he returned to his home at 3 a.m. after being out of town. McCarthy said he became upset because his wife and family were gone and some of their personal belongings, as well as family furniture, were also missing.

During the interview, McCarthy was distraught and angry over issues with his family, DeGennaro said. McCarthy left the state police barracks at around 8 a.m.

McCarthy came back to the barracks around noon, swore at his family and police, threw an empty beer bottle at a Trooper and then sped off. That's like chumming the water in the Sea World Shark Tank.

DeGennaro said Domagola witnessed the incident, hopped into his marked Chevrolet Tahoe and drove after McCarthy. Domagola saw McCarthy make a U-turn. McCarthy "then tried to ram his car head-on into the trooper car, but he missed," DeGennaro said.

Domagola turned his vehicle around and gave chase and McCarthy again made a U-turn, pulling off and stopping on the west shoulder of Route 57. DeGennaro said McCarthy waited there and intentionally drove into the path of the Tahoe, this time striking it head-on.

Domagola got out of his SUV and went to check McCarthy for injuries, DeGennaro said. McCarthy immediately became combative, and Domagola tried to subdue him with pepper spray.

A word about pepper spray, mace and other non-lethal weapons. Sometimes they are more non-lethal than at other times. Some people do not react with getting sprayed with a highly irritating fluid other then getting highly irritated themselves. Or in numbnuts case, more irritated than he was to begin with. McCarthy tried to yank other people out of their cars but failed.

McCarthy reached into the bed of the truck and pulled out a 4-by-4, 8-foot long, wood fence post. He began swinging it at Domagola, witnesses said.

DeGennaro said Domagola drew his pistol and told McCarthy to drop the fence post several times. When he didn't comply, Domagola fired one round, but it landed in the pavement, the major said.

McCarthy dropped the lumber and Domagola put the pistol back in its holster, he said.

I'm not going to second guess the Trooper on this. The State Police are highly trained in the use of deadly physical force and he reacted as he was trained.

McCarthy charged at Domagola again and the two wrestled against a guide rail with McCarthy trying to grab the gun, police said.

"The man had all his weight against the trooper with the gun in his right hand," Miller said. "He was pointing and pressing the gun up against the trooper's head and at his neck, yelling something at him."

McCarthy weighs 250 pounds; Domagola weighs 200 pounds, DeGennaro said. Both men are a little over 6 feet tall, the major said.

"He pointed the barrel of the weapon at the sergeant's head," DeGennaro said. "They both had their fingers on the trigger guard."

DeGennaro said the empty shell from Domagola's first round was still in the chamber, likely preventing the second round from going off.

DeGennaro credits passersby and witnesses to the accident with distracting McCarthy, screaming at him to stop.

This is known as a "stove pipe jam." The gun could not go off because the spent cartridge never cleared the breech. Therefore the Glock could not cycle completely and the next round in the magazine was never loaded.

Thank the Good Lord above. The next paragraph is about gun control in a crisis.

Miller said Domagola took advantage of McCarthy's distraction to get the upper hand. "The next thing I know the trooper had his gun back," Miller said.

By then, the major said, Harrington had arrived on the scene.

Harrington "immediately went at him and I went right behind him," Miller said. Harrington "grabbed him on top and I grabbed his legs and the man fell to the ground. This man was still struggling to get free, but the officer ended up getting him handcuffed."

McCarthy and Domagola were treated at A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton and released. Domagola had scrapes and bruises, DeGennaro said.

This round goes to the good guys. At the end of his tour Trooper Domagola went home to be with his family. Right where he belongs.

I wonder how long it took him to fall asleep that night...

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