Punk’s Bloody Brawl with Trooper Ends When a Cowboy Rolls Up
This holiday season, it’s important to remember there are plenty of mothers and fathers who, because of the dangerous nature of their job, won’t make it home to their family this holiday — or any other holiday.
One of these people was almost former New York State Trooper Jean Dhaiti — who, during a 2017 traffic stop on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island was dragged across the highway by driver Kyheem Kelly.
After a two-year legal odyssey, Kelly was finally sentenced to four years behind bars. Before that, however, a cowboy made sure he didn’t get away.
According to WABC-TV, Dhaiti had pulled Kelly over near Exit 19S for cell phone usage.
Newsday reported that Kelly gave Trooper Dhaiti a fake name during the stop.
After the state trooper realized that the vehicle didn’t have any registration or proof of insurance, he moved to impound it.
However, Kelly refused to give him the keys. When Dhaiti reached inside the car to get them, Kelly sped off with the trooper hanging out the window.
According to Newsday, Dhaiti said on the stand that “he tried to get his lower body into the car while holding onto Kelly. But the Honda crashed into the center median after crossing oncoming traffic lanes, according to Dhaiti, who struck his head.”
A bloodied Dhaiti finally managed to get Kelly under control — but not before a cowboy rolled up to help him catch his breath.
Here’s the video of the encounter:
Note how, at the end, the man in the cowboy hat rushed in to make sure Kelly was taken into custody.
Mind you, Trooper Dhaiti had already done almost all of the work — but a cowboy coming to the rescue at the last second is never unappreciated, and the fight was over the moment he got involved.
“A couple Good Samaritans hopped out of their vehicles, when the officer got the guy, the suspect, out of the car, and as he tried to get him restrained, two Good Samaritans came out of their car and held the guy down,” a witness said to WABC-TV.
“It was like a movie. It was right in front of your face and you don’t even believe it’s happening,” he added.
Kelly was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest. Other charges were followed and amended.
When Kelly went to trial, however, jurors returned a mixed verdict in December of 2018.
Newsday reported they were deadlocked on charges regarding “first-degree assault, along with a second-degree assault charge and the offenses of reckless endangerment and resisting arrest.”
However, they did convict Kelly on second-degree assault and reckless driving in addition to lesser charges. The state was left to decide whether or not to refile top charges.
Kelly’s attorneys tried to cast doubt upon the circumstances of the traffic stop, arguing that the trooper was the aggressor and his client merely got freaked out.
Lawyer Matt Tuohy, after he said his client tried to talk the trooper out of impounding his car because he was on a date, “tried to portray a chaotic situation in which the trooper lost his temper and went into the car to try to grab Kelly or his keys. The defense asserted that Kelly’s foot came off the brake with the trooper on top of him, or one of them mistakenly hit the gas, before the car ‘started to go.’”
“The evidence showed there were a lot of conflicts as to what happened,” Tuohy said.
In 2019, however, Kelly ended up accepting a plea deal that would leave him with four years behind bars instead of a second trial.
“There’s some justice here,” Dhaiti told Newsday after the sentencing, which saw Kelly plead guilty to attempted first-degree assault — a reduced count of the top charge against him.
Dhaiti urged drivers not to go Kelly’s route.
“If you get pulled over, accept what it is,” he said.
“I had no intentions of even arresting this guy. I was just going to impound his car and then things just got out of hand. It shouldn’t have even gotten that far. For somebody that’s never been in trouble, it’s crazy that he would even do something like that. It just made no sense. None of it was worth it.”
Sadly, it would be the last ticket that Dhaiti would ever write or arrest he’d ever make.
The U.S. Army veteran and former New York Police Department officer, who spent 12 years as a New York State Trooper, wasn’t able to return to work due to the injuries he sustained. He testified that he sustained a brain injury and a head wound that required stitches, and left the state police as of Kelly’s sentencing.
Dhaiti was, however, still able to go home to his family for the holidays. There are some that can’t say that. For some others, we hope they have their own guardian angel — cowboy hat or not — looking over them if they ever get themselves in a scrape like this.
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