Off-duty cops attacked, injured

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NEW YORK (AP) – A group of people enraged by a car accident attacked two off-duty police officers Saturday, beating one so severely he wound up hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

The second officer suffered less serious injuries but was also hospitalized. The three passengers in the car that was struck face assault charges.

Police said the two officers were set upon after their Ford Explorer slipped on ice and struck a car at around 3:45 a.m. Saturday in Manhattan’s Chelsea section.

One of the off-duty officers dialed 911. When patrol officers arrived, they found two men and a woman who had been passengers in the car attacking the two officers, said Sgt. Kevin Hayes, a police spokesman.

Both officers were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. One, age 29, was in critical condition with head injuries. The other, age 21, was in stable condition from injuries caused by both the accident and assault, police said. The police department declined to immediately identify the officers.

Lamont Lafducade, 33, and Durvell Williams, 21, both of Brooklyn, will be charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon, police said. Thelma Lopez, 28, of the Bronx, faces the same charges, police said.

Lafducade, who police say carried a switchblade knife, will also be charged with driving while intoxicated.

The accident and attack came the same day that Queens prosecutors announced that a Long Island man would be charged with dragging a New York City police officer from his moving car.

Prosecutors said Walter Hurdle, 50, of Valley Stream faces up to 25 years in prison for the Jan. 18 incident in the Jamaica section of Queens.

Police said officers had approached Hurdle after spotting him slumped over in a parked car. When they asked him to step into the street, he hit the gas, catching Sgt. John Pagnotta in an open door.

The car smashed into the police cruiser and dragged Pagnotta between 15 and 30 feet, prosecutors said. He suffered a broken pelvis, several broken ribs, a fractured backbone and a dislocated shoulder.

AP-ES-01-20-07 1619EST

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