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RPD Officer Seriously Injured Responding to Call

Patti Singer

Update: Rochester Police Department announced late afternoon Oct. 7 that Keith Williams, 28, was arrested and charged in the alleged attack on Officer Denny Wright on Oct. 4 at 37 Peck Street. Williams was charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated assault of a police officer. He is alleged to have punched Wright in the face and then repeatedly stabbed him in the face, left, eye and lower body. Williams was scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 8. More charges may be considered by a grand jury.

File photo

A Rochester police officer underwent surgery Oct. 4 after being cut numerous times when he responded to a call for family trouble.

Denny Wright, 23-year veteran of the Clinton Section, remained in intensive care at Rochester General Hospital several days after the attack.

Good Samaritans are being credited with helping to save the officer and subdue a male who allegedly struck out at the officer with a knife. While he was being cut, Wright radioed for additional help at the scene, 37 Peck St., according to police.

“(The Oct. 4) attack was a staunch reminder of the dangers our officers face when they leave their loved ones to protect and serve this city,” Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Oct. 5 at a news conference. “I watched the body- worn camera video. What I saw was a vicious and brutal attack on Officer Wright. We could easily be standing here talking about a different set of circumstances had it not been for the resiliency of Officer Wright, the Good Samaritans that intervened and the quick actions of responding officers.”

The extent of Wright’s injuries have not yet been made public. Singletary said the injuries were not life-threatening. Officers who assisted received services through the officer assistance program.

The male was Tased and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. Singletary said the male was not injured. He was being held at Strong for an evaluation, although Singletary declined to say whether the subject was being evaluated for his physical or mental health.

As of midday Oct. 7, no one had been charged in the attack. Singletary said during the news conference that police were not looking for anyone, but could not comment further.

District Attorney Sandra Doorley said at the news conference that the investigation is continuing. “Myself along with the Rochester Police Department haven’t made the decision to charge.” She said the police were being particular about what facts to release and the purpose of the news conference was to provide an update on the officer’s condition.

Doorley said possible charges could be aggravated assault against a police officer, assault in the first degree and “frankly, even attempted aggravated murder. … I watched the body-worn camera. This was a vicious, brutal assault. Luckily we’re not here talking about the murder of another police officer in this city.”

Rochester Police Department released a statement from Wright’s family:
“We would like to thank everyone for their support in this difficult situation. We are humbled by the outpouring of genuine concern and compassion from his brothers and sisters in blue, the medical staff at Rochester General, and his family and friends.

“The overwhelming support is a true testament of Denny’s character … a caring, giving officer who always did and always will place the safety of others before his own. On behalf of our loving Denny, thank you and please keep him in your prayers.”

Singletary said he had received many calls from residents, expressing their concern for Wright and wishes for his recovery.

The Rochester Police Locust Club has issued the following statement regarding the attack on a Rochester Police Officer:

“Our Brother officer was attacked today, while doing his difficult and dangerous job of protecting this community. He fought to stay alive and did just that. We are thankful that his Brother and Sisters were able to get to him quickly and drive him to the hospital. Please keep him and all officers, especially those who helped save his life, in your thoughts and prayers.”

Singletary released a timeline of the Oct. 4 encounter:

  • 11:45 a.m., a resident of 37 Peck St. called 911 call for family trouble;
  • 12:21 p.m., Wright is dispatched;
  • 12:25 p.m., Wright arrived;
  • at approximately 12:30, Wright requested assistance.

Singletary said that upon arrival, Wright tried to talk to a 28-year-old male. The male was under a bed on the first floor. The male came out from under the bed and tried to run out the front door, at which time family tried to grab him. As Wright attempted to intervene, the male punched Wright in the face. The male became armed with a knife and repeatedly stabbed Wright.

Wright fired one shot toward the male, but it missed. Wright and the male continued to fight. Singletary said that two individuals who heard the commotion ran into the house to help Wright and said the male was held down by those two and by Wright until other officers arrived.

“My hat is off to those individuals that helped Officer Wright,” Singletary said. “Too often we talk about how officers run toward danger. …I can’t reiterate enough that there are good people in these neighborhoods. This is why we do what we do, because we know there are people in the neighborhoods who support the Rochester Police Department. Here you have an officer sustain a vicious, brutal attack, probably one of the worst attacks I have seen in my 19 1/2 year career.”

Police have not identified the Good Samaritans.

Singletary said the male lived at the house, and that police had responded to 37 Peck St. several months ago. He declined to comment further, citing the current investigation.

This story was updated Oct. 8.