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Case of Alleged Assault on Police Officer Goes to Grand Jury

Patti Singer

A grand jury has voted at least one felony count against the Rochester man accused of assaulting Rochester Police Officer Denny Wright on Oct. 4.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley presented certification of that vote Oct. 11 at a scheduled preliminary hearing for Keith Williams. The 28-year-old is charged with the felonies of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated assault on a police officer for the alleged attack at 37 Peck St.

Wright had been in intensive care at Rochester General Hospital. On Oct. 14, Rochester Police said he was transferred to a local rehabilitation facility for the next phase of his treatment. According to police, Wright was in stable condition and his medical conditions have not changed.

The document filed by Doorley with City Court Judge Stephen T. Miller didn’t specify the charge. But the grand jury certification takes the case out of City Court and moves it to either county or State Supreme court. The next step is to await a final indictment, which is expected between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, when the term for the current grand jury ends.

Unlike at Williams’ arraignment Oct. 8, when more than 200 police and other members of law enforcement filled the courtroom and lined the hallway outside, there were about two dozen representatives of law enforcement agencies.

When Williams came into the courtroom, he turned to the gallery, appearing to seek out family.

“We wanted to make sure the defendant was held,” Doorley said after the brief court appearance. “ In order to confirm that he’s going to be held, instead of going forward with the prelimary hearing, we wanted to make sure we could present the case to a grand jury. But the grand jury voting at least one charge, it divests jurisdiction. It helps us. We don’t have to go forward with the preliminary hearing.”

After the arraignment Oct. 8, Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Doorley were asked about Williams’ previous encounters with police. Doorley said Williams had pending charges, but the victim was uncooperative, there were no other witness and there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed without those accounts.

On Oct. 9, Doorley released information “in an effort to clarify the surrounding facts and circumstances regarding Keith Williams’ custody status as it relates to the incident alleged to have occurred on October 4, 2019.”

The timeline was based on information from the Monroe County Jail obtained Oct. 9, and a review of case notes.

According to the DA’s office:

  • On Jan. 24, 2019, Williams was convicted before Miller of second degree criminal contempt for an event on Sept. 30, 2018. By the time of this conviction, Williams had spent approximately 77 days in custody. He was sentenced on March 21, 2019 to 3 years’ probation.
  • On June 1, 2019, Williams was arrested for second degree assault, two counts of second degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of third degree criminal possession of a weapon. That event was alleged to have occurred on May 30, 2019, with an additional misdemeanor charge for second degree menacing stemming from a separate incident on June 1, 2019. Miller was assigned to the felony case on June 3, 2019. The defendant was arraigned on the felony case and the DA asked for $30,000/$90,000 bail/secured bond. Miller set $15,000/$45,000 bail/secured bond and a temporary no contact order of protection was issued for the victim of that case. At the same time, the defendant was arraigned on a violation of probation (“VOP”) for the probationary period that Miller was overseeing from the Jan. 24, 2019 conviction.
  • On June 3, 2019, Williams was arraigned in front of City Court Judge Teresa Johnson for the second degree menacing charge. He was not held on that charge due to his hold on the VOP and the new felony case, which secured his custody in the Monroe County Jail. The DA said the victim in the felony case “became immediately uncooperative on June 3, 2019” and did not comply with two grand jury subpoenas. The DA’s office and Rochester Police worked with the victim’s family, and the victim met with police on June 20. However, the victim didn’t want to cooperate. The DA and police tried to move forward, but didn’t have the evidence.
  • On July 17, 2019, Miller sentenced Williams, who still was in custody, to eight months in the Monroe County Jail on the violation of probation, and misdemeanor probation was terminated. At that point, according to the DA’s timeline, Williams had already served over four months in the Monroe County Jail, for which he received credit by law. “The defendant was released on July 29, 2019 after serving the maximum amount of time by law for his eight-month sentence because he was given credit for the time he had previously served,” the DA’s office said. The time served included Sept. 29-30, 2018; Oct. 1, 2018-Jan. 24, 2019; May 10-11; and June 1-July 16. “Due to the uncooperative victim and lack of corroborating evidence on the felony case, the now-sentenced defendant was released on that charge,” Doorley wrote in the timeline.

The DA said the felony case is pending before Miller. The June 1, 2019 charge of second-degree menacing is set for trial Oct. 24 with Johnson.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley submitted this certification of grand jury action in the matter of The People of the State of New York v. Keith J. Williams, accused of assaulting Rochester Police Officer Denny Wright on Oct. 4, 2019. Provided by Monroe County District Attorney.

This story was updated Oct. 15 with information about Wright being transferred to a rehabilitation facility.