JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer email@example.com, 215-854-2592
A JUDGE dismissed an attempted-murder charge Thursday against a man accused of running over a cop's leg in January, but held the man for trial on aggravated assault and related offenses.
Municipal Judge David Shuter agreed with defense attorney Perry de Marco Sr., saying that defendant Dominique Fallins, 24, "was trying to get away from the officer, not trying to kill him."
Police Officer Joseph Kochmer, of North Philly's 22nd District, testified at Fallins' preliminary hearing that about 11:30 a.m. Jan. 8, he and partner Brian Hollman were in a patrol car, stopped at a light on Ridge Avenue, near 32nd Street, in Strawberry Mansion, when he saw a 2006 silver Chevy Impala traveling south on 32nd.
Kochmer, 32, said after he got behind the Impala, the driver pulled over without signaling. He said he activated the patrol car's lights, stopped, and his partner ran the Impala's tag information, which linked it to a Nissan rental car out of Ohio.
He and his partner got out and went to the Impala, and Kochmer said the driver - whom he identified in court as Fallins - gave him a registration card, but not a driver's license or insurance card.
The cops returned to their car to check the registration in their computer. Kochmer said his partner saw the driver moving around nervously in the Impala.
He said when he returned to the Impala, which had its driver's-side window open, Fallins was on his cellphone, and after being told to put it away, threw it down.
Fallins then "grabbed the gear shifter and slammed on the gas," but the wheels got stuck and were spinning, Kochmer said.
"I drew my weapon. I told him to get out of the car," he testified.
Suddenly, the cop said, Fallins pushed the cop's right hand away, which had the gun.
"He looked me dead in my eyes, and said 'F--- you,' " Kochmer testified.
Then, the Impala "starts to catch traction, the car shoots off like a rocket," Kochmer said. "I discharged my weapon hoping he would let me go."
Kochmer said he didn't know if the bullet hit the car. He said he was dragged a little and fell. He was on bent knee when the Impala's left-back tire ran over his right knee.
The Impala then fled west on Susquehanna Avenue, he said.
Kochmer said he "could barely walk," but made it to the passenger seat of his patrol car, and that his partner rushed him to Temple University Hospital.
Police have said that other officers arrested Fallins not long after on 23rd Street near Cumberland.
Kochmer said he suffered a broken fibula and "my knee was all torn off and I had extremely bad bruising." He was bedridden at home for three to four weeks and missed four months of work.
Assistant District Attorney Sam Haaz told the judge that cops learned from Fallins' mother that Fallins lived on Ridge Avenue near 31st Street.
After verifying that, they got a search warrant and found several license plates in the house, including the original tag for the Impala, which had been reported stolen Jan. 1, and a duplicate Ohio tag for the Nissan.
De Marco argued for the attempted-murder charge to be dismissed, saying there was no specific intent to kill. "The officer candidly testified the defendant was trying to get away," he said.
Haaz argued that Fallins intended death and that "it's a miracle" Kochmer wasn't more injured.
The judge agreed with de Marco on attempted murder.
Fallins, who remains in custody, was held for trial on aggravated assault, fleeing, attempting to disarm a law-enforcement officer, car theft and related offenses.
De Marco said afterward: "We're extremely happy with the results of today's hearing that we got the attempted-murder charge dismissed."
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