After a dramatic chase through the woods in Wainscott early Monday, a Northport man who refused to surrender to East Hampton Village police despite being Tasered twice was finally brought down by an officer using a flashlight and a baton. Daniel Cavan Rathgaber, 30, was charged with felony driving with a suspended license and two misdemeanors —drunken driving and resisting arrest.
Police stopped a black 2010 Honda Accord that was swerving out of its lane as it headed west on Montauk Highway near Daniel’s Hole Road. As Officer Steven Niggles approached, Mr. Rathgaber jumped out of the car and ran into the woods. Police said he kept running even as the officer shouted several times, "Police, stop!" The officer pursued Mr. Rathgaber and when close enough fired his Taser. It briefly stopped him, but then he got up and continued to flee.
Officer Eben Ball then joined the chase through the dark woods, ordering Mr. Rathgaber to stop before firing his Taser. Mr. Rathgaber then reportedly charged the officer. As the two wrestled, Officer Ball pulled out his baton and struck Mr. Rathgaber in the left leg several times.
Finally the officer was able to shove him to the ground and "strike him in the back of the head with his flashlight," the police report said. After he was arrested, Mr. Rathgaber told the two officers that "he had left Montauk, and drank six beers there. The defendant also stated that he had a prior D.U.I. charge, and that is why he ran."
A number of cuts on Mr. Rathgaber's face and body were still visible during his arraignment later that day. He refused all blood alcohol tests and was taken to Southampton Hospital for treatment before being released back to police.
Represented in East Hampton Town Justice Court by Brian Francese of the Legal Aid Society, Mr. Rathgaber told Justice Steven Tekulsky that he commutes to Montauk from Northport on weekends to work at Ruschmeyer's restaurant.
He stood in front of the justice wrapped in a white blanket, wearing blue hospital pajamas and slippers.
"Besides the serious nature of the charges, this defendant doesn't seem to obey an order of the court," Justice Tekulsky said to Mr. Francese as they discussed a bail amount, referring to the fact that Mr. Rathgaber's license had been suspended after he recently pleaded guilty, following a plea deal, to a charge of driving with ability impaired by alcohol, a violation. Justice Tekulsky said the district attorney's office had asked that bail be set at $10,000.
"He was operating a motor vehicle while his privileges were revoked,” Justice Tekulsky said. “The charges themselves indicate that the defendant fled and continued to flee, even when told to halt."
He pointed out Mr. Rathgaber's tenuous ties to the community and set bail at $8,500. Mr. Rathgaber was given several hours Monday to raise bail at police headquarters on Cedar Street. Unable to do so, he was taken to the county jail in Riverside. He will be returned to court on Thursday.