WEST BRIGHTON — A prisoner who wrestled an officer to the ground inside a Staten Island hospital and tried to grab her gun has been indicted for attempted murder, District Attorney Michael McMahon announced.
Dante Martin, 36, was hit with a 19-count indictment Wednesday for attacking the officer who was guarding him in Richmond University Medical Center and trying to take her gun, McMahon said.
"This defendant is a convicted felon who is alleged to have put the life of a police officer and possibly innocent bystanders in grave danger with his reckless and selfish attempt to escape custody," McMahon said in a statement.
"His alleged actions nearly cost a brave cop her life and now, after being indicted by a grand jury, my office will vigorously prosecute this case to ensure Mr. Martin is held accountable for his crimes."
Martin was taken to the hospital after he was arrested on weapons charges last month, claiming he needed medical attention for a seizure condition, a law enforcement source said.
On Aug. 28, he told the officer who was guarding him that he needed to use the bathroom and, after she removed his handcuffs, he attacked her, McMahon said.
Martin threw the officer to the ground, wrapped his arms around her, then punched her while on top and tried to remove her gun out of its holster, prosecutors said.
The rookie officer began to scream for help when a patient on the same floor, Rafael Muniz, ran in and grabbed Martin's arm, ABC 7 reported.
"He had a moment of clarity, looked at me and I said, 'You don't have to do it'," Muniz, 42, told ABC 7.
"His reply was, 'But I have my finger on the trigger.' I told him, 'Just take it off the trigger' — after the second time, he did."
Other officers then came into the room and arrested Martin, prosecutors said.
He was charged with attempted murder, attempted aggravated murder, attempted criminal possession of a weapon, attempted robbery, assault, attempted escape, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing on Wednesday, McMahon said.
"This was not an attempted murder, the allegations are that my client tried to pull the officer’s gun. The gun was never removed from the holster," said his lawyer, Michael Harding.
"It’s an over indictment to say that this is an attempted murder charge."
Martin was held without bail and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, according to online court records. He's due back in court on Sept. 28.
Before the incident at the hospital, Martin was arrested for threatening a woman with a loaded gun outside of 55 Holland Ave. on Aug. 25., prosecutors said.
When officers approached him, he threw the gun to the ground and ran, but police eventually caught up to him and recovered a Glock 23 with nine rounds of ammunition in it, McMahon said.
He's been arrested several times before and was out on parole since January after he spent time in Woodbourne Correctional Facility for assault and attempted criminal possession of a weapon, according to state Department of Corrections records.
Martin also spent eight years behind bars for attempted assault and was released in 2007, records show.