Suspect pleads not guilty in Suffolk police officer shooting
Police say the man arrested in the shooting of a Suffolk County police officer in Coram pleaded not guilty Friday and was held without bail.
Police say 6th Precinct officers were conducting surveillance on a Norfleet Lane home after receiving information that Janell Funderburke, who was wanted for an armed robbery, was inside.
Police say Funderburke exited the home and fled upon seeing officers.
One officer pursued the suspect on foot, and Funderburke allegedly fired two shots at the officer, striking him in the right thigh on Homestead Drive around 12:50 p.m.
The officer, identified by the Suffolk PBA as Michael Lafauci, is a six-year veteran of the department assigned to the 6th Precinct Anti-Crime Unit. Lafauci was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by police vehicle and is expected to be OK but has a long road to recovery. He will be at Stony Brook University Hospital for at least a week.
Suffolk PBA President Noel DiGerolamo says the suspect never should have been out on the street.
Funderburke was arrested in August for allegedly having a gun when officers pulled him and three others from a burning vehicle following a police chase.
DiGerolamo says the state's current bail reform law is to blame.
"An individual who one day is rescued by Suffolk County police officers out of a burning vehicle, they saved his life, only in return to for him to attempt to kill one," DiGerolamo says. "This is what our leaders in Albany have created."
Meanwhile, the suspect's uncle says his nephew has psychiatric problems and is addicted to drugs. He says the shooting was not intentional and denies allegations his nephew is a gang member.
"He made a mistake, he was on drugs, he's got psych problems - serious ones, and it's documented," said the uncle, who did not want to be identified. "Please don't take it out of proportion and make it like he's this killer, he's this shooter."
Funderburke also apologized to the officer and his family on Friday.
He was charged with attempted aggravated murder and robbery.
Funderburke will be back in court on May 17.