May 3, 2012
Man who fled police takes plea deal
Chris Gillette agrees to 3-6 year prison sentence, intensive drug treatment
A Cortland man who nearly ran over a city police detective while trying to avoid arrest for burglary agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to felonies in exchange for intensive substance abuse treatment while in state prison.
Christopher Gillette, 29, was arrested April 25, a day after nearly running over Sgt. Dan Edwards with a Chevrolet Impala outside Gillette’s West Court Street home, then a pedestrian on Monroe Heights, Cortland police said.
Gillette avoided capture until the next day when a tip led officers to arrest him at a home on Randall Street, police said.
Gillette had been smoking the stimulant known as “bath salts” the day before the incident and was allegedly under its effects when he nearly ran over the two people, according to court documents.
“Bath salts” is an illegal amphetamine known to cause delusions, paranoia and erratic behavior.
Gillette appeared Wednesday in City Court and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for prosecutors recommending 3 to 6 years in prison and an intensive substance abuse treatment program.
Defense lawyer Ron Walsh said substance abuse treatment is what Gillette needs and a desire to get that help was a motivator in resolving the case quickly.
“Mr. Gillette wants to move this along,” Walsh said. “He was anxious to bring a resolution to it.”
Gillette will have to plead guilty in County Court to felony counts of reckless endangerment, burglary; and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and attempted escape.
Cortland police tried to question Gillette April 24 in the afternoon about his alleged role in the burglary of a Church Street residence, in which two video game systems were stolen.
Police said Gillette walked out of his apartment, refused to stop and talk to the officers, jumped into the Impala with a friend and drove directly at Edwards.
Edwards displayed his badge, pistol and yelled, “Police! Stop!” court papers said.
A 22-year-old local man who was nearly struck told police he saw Gillette’s car coming toward him by Monroe Heights and Groton Avenue.
“The vehicle drove right in front of the Trombley Tire lot and the passenger fell out ... in the road as the vehicle turned,” the witness told police. “It was a very fast, sharp, hard turn and I am surprised it (the car) did not flip over.”
Neither Edwards nor the pedestrian were struck and Gillette continued driving in an unknown direction, police said.
Gillette’s passenger, who was also unhurt and did not face any charges, later told police Gillette was trying to avoid arrest.
“He kept saying he is not going back to jail,” he said.
Police found the Impala parked on Lincoln Avenue the morning after the incident.
When officers acting on a tip arrived at the Randall Street residence, Gillette tried to run from the house, police said. The officers chased Gillette and wrestled with him, and subdued him with a Taser, police said.
While at the police station, Gillette allegedly damaged the handcuff in an attempted escape, but officers caught him before he could get out of the building, Cortland Police Lt. Richard Troyer said.
Gillette did not face drug charges because police did not find any “bath salts” during their investigation, Troyer said.
Gillette has been jailed with bail set at $10,000 cash or $25,000 bond.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe