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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

Schoharie fugitive slipped handcuffs, avoided gunshots

Schoharie fugitive slipped handcuffs, avoided gunshots

The woman accused of slipping her handcuffs and stealing a trooper’s patrol car Sunday afternoon bef
Schoharie fugitive slipped handcuffs, avoided gunshots
An officer gives a statement at the scene of the search on Sunday.
Photographer: Brett Samuels

The woman accused of slipping her handcuffs and stealing a trooper’s patrol car Sunday afternoon before ditching it evaded police for about four miles on foot Sunday, police said.

She also avoided two shots which were fired by a Schoharie County sheriff’s deputy as she briefly dragged the trooper trying to get back inside the car, Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond confirmed Monday.

Neither shot is believed to have hit anything, Desmond said. He declined to provide further details.

The fugitive, identified as 27-year-old Middleburgh resident Tierra L. Scott, appeared in town of Schoharie Court Monday evening on a host of charges related to the incident, including assault, grand larceny and escape.

She pleaded not guilty. Her attorney Tom Garner asked that she be released without having to post bail, citing long ties to the area.

Schoharie County District Attorney James Sacket, noting the allegations, asked Judge Kenneth Knutsen to keep bail at $25,000.

Sacket also cited the burglary charges under which deputies first took Scott into custody. Those charges are separate from the escape-related counts.

Knutsen ordered bail to remain at $25,000. Scott is due back in court Oct. 17.

Also Monday, both the state police and Sheriff’s Department provided further details of how Scott came to be in custody and how they believe she escaped.

Sheriff’s investigators zeroed in on Scott in connection with a couple of business burglaries in recent weeks in the Richmondville area. One happened last week in the village and the other happened earlier Sunday in the town, Desmond said.

The investigator found Scott and took her into custody, but the Sheriff’s Department, short-handed for the day, had no way to get her back to the department.

A request went out for assistance and state Trooper Jason Cintula responded to the scene, state police spokesman Trooper Mark Cepiel said.

Already in the investigators’ handcuffs, her hands behind her back, Cintula checked the cuffs to ensure they were properly secured and then placed her, seat-belted, in the trooper car’s front passenger seat.

Cepiel said it is state police policy when there is one trooper and a single prisoner to transport the prisoner in the front passenger seat.

Trooper cars have no divider between the back seat and the front, making it difficult for a single trooper to respond to an unruly prisoner in the back while still keeping control of the car. In the front seat, the trooper can keep one hand on the wheel while responding to any unruliness that may occur, Cepiel said.

At some point, Cepiel said, the woman - who is of small stature - is believed to have slipped her cuffs, somehow getting a hand through one.

Upon arrival at the sheriff’s Department, Cintula got out of the car and moved to the passenger side to remove Scott. During that process, however, Scott - her arms free - locked the doors and quickly moved to the driver’s side.

Cintula used his key fob to try and unlock the doors, but Scott managed to prevent entry. She then put the car in gear and started to drive off as Cintula remained holding on to the door handle, Cepiel said.

Cintula suffered minor leg and knee injuries in the brief dragging. Paramedics took him to Cobleskill Regional Hospital for treatment.

Desmond said Monday that one of his deputies was nearby and saw the incident as Scott dragged the trooper. She took out her service weapon and fired two shots, Desmond said.

“She was right nearby and she saw the trooper was down being dragged by the car and she did shoot,” Desmond said.

She stayed with the trooper briefly and then left to go try and find the trooper car, Desmond said. Corrections officers nearby also responded to the trooper.

Scott drove the trooper car about 3 1⁄2 miles before ditching it on Wetsel Hollow Road in the town of Schoharie, Cepiel said. She then fled on foot, getting about four more miles through the woods before authorities found her near Saddlemire Hill Road and Grovenors Corners Road, Cepiel said.

State police received a flurry of tips that led them to her, Cepiel said. They used the tips to determine a direction of travel and set up a parimeter where they believed she’d appear. She did appear and they arrested her.

She faces one count each of third-degree grand larceny, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree assault, all felonies, along with third-degree escape, a misdemeanor.

Desmond said the incident is the first time in about five years that one of his deputies has fired a weapon. The last time came in September 2011 when a Broome man threatened state police and sheriff’s deputies with a shotgun and authorities opened fire after he failed to comply with demands to drop the weapon, killing the man.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, scook@dailygazette.net or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

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