The Centereach man who allegedly stabbed and critically injured Suffolk County police officer Christopher Racioppo following a motor vehicle crash in Patchogue has been indicted, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced Wednesday, April 28.
Jonathan Nunez, 25, has been charged with five felony and five misdemeanor charges for his actions on April 10. He could face a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison if he's found guilty of the top charge.
The District attorney said Wednesday that Nunez was driving while impaired by methamphetamine.
“This defendant was allegedly high on drugs and driving erratically, and instead of pulling over and complying with lawful commands, he decided to speed through a residential area and ultimately attacked a police officer,” Sini said. “These are all conscious decisions that the defendant made - decisions that put so many peoples’ lives at risk – including Officer Racioppo, who is lucky to be alive thanks to the swift actions of the responding officers, good Samaritans, and the medical professionals at both Long Island Community Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital. I’ll say this clearly and unequivocally: We will do whatever it takes to hold this defendant accountable for his horrific actions.”
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on April 10, Nunez was driving a 1999 Mercedes Benz southbound on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue when he was allegedly observed driving erratically with no headlights on by Racioppo. Racioppo activated his emergency lights and attempted to pull the vehicle over, at which time Nunez allegedly fled at a high rate of speed and crashed into a 2004 Nissan at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Brook Street.
Nunez allegedly exited his vehicle following the crash and fled on foot into the yard of a nearby residence. Nunez then allegedly became engaged in a physical altercation with Officer Racioppo and stabbed him in the leg, severing his femoral artery and a vein.
“The defendant was extremely combative and extremely violent,” Sini said. “At no point did he have any interest in complying with lawful commands by members of the police department, and that behavior continued when he was brought to the hospital, where he was combative with the medical staff as well.”
Two good Samaritans assisted responding Fifth Precinct officers in rendering emergency medical aid to Officer Racioppo and apprehending Nunez.
Officer Racioppo was transported to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue and then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for the ruptured artery and was in critical condition. He was released from the hospital on April 26.
Following the incident, the driver of the Nissan was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Nunez was transported to Long Island Community Hospital.
Commissioner Hart said Racioppo is thankfully home today, but he's suffered an injury that requires a lengthy recovery.
“It was a lesson in courage that we saw when Officer Racioppo was viciously attacked and officers came to his rescue without question. I want to thank the District Attorney and his team on behalf of the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department for holding this defendant accountable and bringing him to justice.”
President of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association Noel DiGerolamo thanked Suffolk Police, and Sini, the District Attorney’s Office and the Court for "recognizing the severity of the actions of this defendant and for making sure he’s held accountable for those actions."
Nunez was arraigned on the indictment before Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow and was remanded without bail. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society and is due back in court on June 2.