Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti is speaking out on criminal justice reform following the report of one of two recent police pursuits in the county.
Responding to a report of people wearing black ski masks stealing from cars on Emily Lane in the Town of Lockport about 2:10 a.m. Friday, Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies spotted the suspect’s car but lost sight of it as it sped away at a high rate of speed down Robinson Road.
About 20 minutes later, deputies in Wheatfield spotted the vehicle, described as a grey sedan with a loud exhaust, on Lockport Road. When the vehicle reached the intersection of Ward Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard, deputies attempted to initiate a traffic stop but the vehicle spa off again.
A tire deflating device was deployed on Niagara Falls Boulevard near Walmore Road with a successful hit causing tire deflation. Despite having a flat right front tire, the suspect vehicle, a dark green 2005 Chevy Malibu, continued west, entering Niagara Falls.
The pursuit continued through the City of Niagara Falls as units from the New York State Police, the Niagara Falls Police Department, and the Town of Niagara Police joined to assist. The pursuit ultimately entered the front parking lot of the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino where the occupants exited the vehicle and fled on foot toward the parking ramp. After a short canvass of the area, the vehicle's operator, Zion D. Baker, 22, of Niagara Falls, was located and detained.
Two additional occupants of the vehicle were also located and detained but their identities were not released due to the fact they are both 17.
Among the items found in bags belonging to the three suspects were suspected stolen items including a Rolex watch, a gold chain, $51 in change as well as a wallet belonging to a Lockport man. When police contacted him, he told then he had left the wallet in his car, which was missing as well.
A quantity of suspected marijuana and $560 wrapped in a card with several people’s names written on it was also found. Three counterfeit $50 were also found.
Baker was charged with firth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, third-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, reckless driving and multiple other state vehicle and traffic charges. He was released on appearance tickets.
The two 17-year-old subjects were released into the custody of their parents at the sheriff's office. One of the 17-year-olds was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and was released with an appearance ticket.
Felicity said it was the second vehicle pursuit this week involving multiple police agencies, stolen vehicles and reckless driving.
“Unfortunately, I believe this will continue until we get serious about changing the criminal justice reforms in this state. I can point directly at ‘Raise the Age’ and ‘Bail Reform’ for fostering this type of reckless behavior. The residents of Niagara County should not suffer under failed policy which leads to them being victimized. Accountability and consequences need to be returned for those who violate our laws.
“We must continue to call on our elected state officials, who supported this legislation, to make common sense changes to keep our community safe. I do want to applaud my deputies and our law enforcement partners in Niagara County who continue to hold the line and put themselves in jeopardy in spite of legislation which makes their job more difficult.”