Schenectady County

Schenectady man admits leading police on 110 mph chase

A Schenectady man who led police on a 14-mile chase that hit speeds of 110 mph pleaded guilty Friday

A Schenectady man who led police on a 14-mile chase that hit speeds of 110 mph pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree attempted assault.

Virgil Butler, 23, of Degraff Street, admitted to leading police on the chase that ended with an officer twisting an ankle. In return for his plea before acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino, Butler is to receive two to four years in state prison at his September sentencing.

Butler was arrested in December after leading state police on a chase that began at Exit 1 of Interstate 90 in Albany, the Northway exit, and ended at the toll booths at Thruway Exit 25A in Rotterdam, the Interstate 88 exit.

The chase began after a trooper attempted to stop Butler for erratic driving. During the high-speed chase, Butler threw several plastic bags containing an unknown white substance from the vehicle, police said.

By the time Butler approached Exit 25A , a second trooper had joined the chase. Butler was going too fast for a curve and hit a tree at the toll booths, but he was able to get out and flee on foot.

Police soon caught up with him, but he continued to struggle until troopers used pepper spray on him, police said.

Butler was represented by attorney Lee Kindlon. Included in the plea, Kindlon said, was the notation that the injury to the officer wasn’t directly inflicted by Butler, but resulted from the chase. Nonetheless, the plea acknowledged that Butler put the officer in that situation, he said.

Under state law, a fleeing suspect is criminally liable for injuries sustained by a pursuing police officer, even if there is no contact between the two.

It was the second time Butler had been accused of fleeing police, and he was already on parole for a prior conviction for assault on a police officer, authorities said. Kindlon said the assault was similar in that the officer was injured while chasing Butler.

Kindlon called his client a good person who just made a “dumb mistake,” explaining that his client fled because he didn’t have a driver’s license.

“At that moment, he had a lot going on, he had school, a baby on the way and he didn’t want to go back to jail,” he said.

Mike Dematteo prosecuted the case.

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