Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announces that 22 year-old Quentin Sims pleaded guilty as charged to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree before Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio. This was the highest charge for which the defendant could have been convicted after a trial. In other words, Sims did not receive a so-called “plea bargain” and was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law
On October 15th, 2011, Buffalo Police Officers Mark Hamilton and Michael Acquino saw Sims ride his bicycle out of an alleyway on Hempstead Street in the City of Buffalo. Sims was staring at them so intently that he crashed his bicycle into the front porch of a nearby apartment building and fell off of it.
Perplexed by this behavior, the officers inquired of Sims’ well-being and asked him for identification. Although he denied having identification, Sims immediately reached into his pocket in an effort to draw his concealed, unlicensed, defaced, and loaded.25 caliber pistol. Officer Hamilton grabbed onto Sims’ hand and secured the weapon, thus preventing a horrible tragedy.
During a pre-trial suppression hearing before Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka, the police officers testified about their encounter with Sims and the seizure of the handgun. The court ruled the officers could not have reasonably suspected that defendant had a gun and suppressed the evidence making further prosecution impossible.
DA Sedita strongly disagreed with the ruling and appealed the matter to a higher court. Assistant District Attorney Nichols Texido argued to the appellate court that the law does not require police officers to wait for thugs to pull out their guns and begin shooting before they can take action. The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court agreed and the decision of Judge Pietruszka was overruled.
The decision of the Appellate Division was then challenged by the defendant at the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals agreed with the prosecution and with the Appellate Division, affirming that police officers need not await “the glint of steel” before taking action to protect themselves and the public they serve.
The case was returned to Judge Pietruszka, who appropriately recused himself. Erie County Court Judge Sheila DiTullio was assigned to preside, and she scheduled the case for a jury trial. A few days before that trial was to commence, Sims pleaded guilty as charged. Sims faces a minimum of 3 ½ years and a maximum of 15 years in state prison when he is sentenced on September 30, 2014, at 9:30 am by Judge DiTullio.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Texido, who is assigned to DA Sedita’s Appeals Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Eugene Partridge, III, who is assigned to DA Sedita’s Tactical Prosecution Unit. DA Sedita stated: “Because of the dogged determination of our prosecutors, a violent felon and menace to society has finally been brought to justice.”