Just one day after a 41-year-old fugitive led police on a high-speed car chase that cut through Staten Island, across the Verrazano Bridge and ended in Bath Beach, State Senator Marty Golden introduced legislation that would up the ante and increase penalties for those found guilty of unlawful fleeing.
“We have seen both high speed and low speed chases result in injury and death of police officers, pedestrians and other drivers,” said Golden, a former New York City police officer. “Current law for fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle is too lenient and individuals take their chances in the hopes to get away.”
Golden hopes to deter activity similar to the Thursday, February 24 arrest of Anthony Mazza – a defendant who had failed to appear for his aggravated assault sentencing in Old Bridge, New Jersey – and who, alongside another man, led authorities on a high speed chase that began at the Outerbridge Crossing around 2 p.m. and ended with a crash at the corner of 14th and Cropsey Avenues.
In between, authorities said, Mazza led cops in a pursuit up the West Shore Expressway to the Staten Island Expressway, where the driver slammed a Port Authority police cruiser at the Victory Boulevard exit and continued over the Verrazano.
Under Golden’s legislation, the penalty for unlawfully fleeing a police officer would increase from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony, and a Class D felony for those incidents in which a police officer or third party person is seriously injured.
Furthermore, a chase leading to the death of an officer or third party person would be classified as a Class C felony.
“There have been too many injuries and too many people put in danger, and it is imperative that we take this opportunity to enhance penalties,” stressed Golden who, along with colleagues in government, was quick to condemn Mazza’s erratic behavior and applaud all parties involved in bringing the driver to justice. “We must act now before anyone else gets hit during a police chase.”
Golden’s bill is being currently considered for sponsorship in the Assembly.