Officer injuries reflect dangers faced by police

By JAMES MITCHELL

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — Police Chief James Nardone said he’s grateful that injuries sustained by two officers weren’t worse, but the fight with a drunken suspect was a sobering reminder of the risks involved in law enforcement.

It started as a relatively routine traffic stop. Shorlty before 11 p.m. Feb. 13 a vehicle was driving at excessive speeds on Fort Street. A patrol officer saw Derek Woodward, 31, driving at nearly 90 mph in the 35 mph construction zone south of Sibley. Police followed Woodward back to his residence in the 400 block of Buffalo, where he jumped from the car and ran up the driveway.

The patrol officer caught Woodward and tackled him to the ground. Woodward resisted, fighting and kicking the officer in the ribs. A potential hostage situation developed when a woman appeared on the porch; Woodward went to the woman and held her around the neck while yelling at police to back off. Woodward was hit with pepper spray and released the woman, then began fighting with the officers.

Once in handcuffs, Woodward refused further cooperation, going limp and declining to take a blood-alcohol breath test. Woodward smelled of alcohol and police found a jar of moonshine and open container of vodka in his car. A warrant was approved to take Woodward to Oakwood Southshore Medical Center for toxicology tests.

Woodward was arraigned Feb. 13 in 33rd District Court on felony charges including assault, resisting and obstructing causing injury to a police officer, fleeing and eluding, driving on a suspended license and having open containers of alcohol. According to court records Woodward faced 20 criminal charges since 2000.

A preliminary examination of the evidence is scheduled for Tuesday before 33rd District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson. Woodward remained in custody.

Two Trenton officers suffered injuries during the arrest, and Nardone said he expects them back within six weeks.

The officers suffered broken bones, were treated and are recovering.

      (James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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