Bedford dad: Ex-cop Coco should go before jury
The teenager more seriously injured in the March accident involving off-duty Manchester police Sgt. Stephen Coco was actually run over by the undercover police vehicle, and DNA tests were used to identify the boy's blood on the undercarriage, his father said Monday.
Roy Drukker said his son — Dean Drukker, 18 — probably would have died in the hit-and-run accident had his son's companion, Noah Hickman, not been conscious and able to summon help. Hickman was also hit in the accident.
"The real seriousness of this issue is running off," Drukker said. "You run over the top of Dean, and you leave the scene, and you seem to have no concern if he's alive or dead."
Coco has been accused of hitting Drukker and Hickman with the undercover police vehicle on the night of March 22, after leaving a gathering in Drukker's Bedford neighborhood. Earlier this year, Bedford police charged Coco with two felony counts of conduct after an accident, the legal wording for the more commonly known charge of hit and run.
But a grand jury has never indicted Coco in the case. Last month, the prosecutor named to try the case said the misdemeanor charges were part of his prosecution strategy. Prosecutor Marc Hathaway said Monday he could not comment any further about the case, citing ethical standards prosecutors have to follow.
Hathaway is the Sullivan County Attorney. County attorneys customarily ask outside prosecutors to handle criminal cases against police officers in their jurisdiction.
Drukker said he disagrees with the reduction of the charges. He said it would be best if the case went to a jury.
"We believe it's clearly a felony," he said. He said Hathaway called him up to let him know about the reduction of the charge.
Drukker would not disclose the details of any plea-bargain that Hathaway discussed with him.
He worries about the example the reduced charges will set.
"The point is, he's a police officer; he's trained in this," Drukker said. "I believe you should have a higher standard, a gold standard."
Drukker said his son was walking along Harrod Lane when he and Hickman saw the lights of a vehicle approach them. They went over as far as possible to the side of the road, and walked single file.
He said Hickman was thrown, while the Coco vehicle ran over his son. He said Bedford police called and told him his son had been in an accident and they would take him to the hospital right away.
Bedford police would not say whether he was alive or dead, Drukker said.
He said Noah Hickman's father, John Hickman, believed Drukker was going to die: he was unconscious, blood was everywhere, and his eyes were rolled into the back of his head.
According to court papers, Dean Drukker suffered bleeding to the brain, cuts, scrapes and a shoulder injury in the accident. His father said his son is in college and sports some scars from the accident.
"He's doing as best as he could under the situation," Drukker said. Drukker said DNA tests identified the blood found under the Coco vehicle as his son's.
The new charges say that Coco was "attempting to access information on a cell phone" at the time of the accident.
Manchester Police Chief David Mara, who fired Coco shortly after the accident, would not comment on the reduced charges.