A Brooklyn man was arrested by East Hampton Village and Town officers Friday afternoon following a chase through the woods near Georgica Pond in Wainscott. A town officer, who suffered a knee injury during the pursuit, finally stopped the fleeing man by discharging his Taser.
Paul Freckleton, 25, who was riding a motorcycle, was first stopped by the village officer, near Georgica restaurant, where he is employed as a cook.
“One of our officers made a stop for passing on the right,” said Detective Lt. Anthony Long. Mr. Freckleton had passed several vehicles, the detective said, while riding on the shoulder of Montauk Highway in an effort to pass a line of stalled traffic headed east for the weekend.
The officer pulled the motorcycle over on a sandy shoulder just off the highway. Although the wheels were sitting in sand, Mr. Freckleton suddenly tried gunning it, said the detective. “It spun out and fell to the ground.”
Mr. Freckleton took off on foot, running through the restaurant’s parking lot, hopping a fence, and heading into nearby woods. The village officer raced after him, and the town officer, who had been patrolling in the area, joined the chase. The man was brought down when he came out of the woods onto Wainscott Stone Road, about 2,000 feet from Montauk Highway.
He was handcuffed, though not before a struggle that ended when the town officer discharged the Taser. Tasers were added to the gun belts of all town police last year.
The stunned man was taken to Southampton Hospital and treated for the effects of the Taser, then released to village police custody. The town officer, Luke McNamara, who had injured his knee in the chase, was advised by a doctor to undergo an M.R.I. scan to determine the extent of the injury.
The license plates on the cycle were allegedly stolen, Detective Long said, and the motorcycle’s identification number was ground off. Police were trying to determine whether the cycle itself was stolen, by comparing serial numbers on its parts and matching them up with New York State records. Mr. Freckleton faces a felony charge of destroying the vehicle identification number.
In East Hampton Town Justice Court Saturday morning, the defendant told Justice Lisa R. Rana that he lived in Brooklyn and commuted here daily. “At first I took the Long Island Rail Road,” he said, before starting to tell the court how he obtained the motorcycle. Justice Rana cut him off. “This is being recorded,” she said, explaining that anything he said could be used against him.
Mr. Freckleton said he had been unemployed before coming to work at the Wainscott restaurant, and that he had been “traveling.” “Those two don’t normally go together,” Justice Rana observed. She read out the charges, three misdemeanors in addition to the felony: fleeing a police officer, resisting arrest, and possession of stolen property (the license plates). He was also cited for six vehicle infractions.
The district attorney’s office requested that bail be set at $5,000, a number the justice said she was inclined to agree with, considering Mr. Freckleton’s scant ties to the area. He told her he had only $16 and asked that the figure be reduced. “Can you make it $1,000?”
“I thought you only had $16?”
Mr. Freckleton said Georgica Restaurant owed him some back pay.
“A police officer was hurt in this,” Justice Rana said. She set bail at $3,000.
The defendant appeared surprised to hear of Officer McNamara’s injury. “It is impossible for me to make bail at $3,000,” he protested. Justice Rana said that was as low as she was prepared to go.
“I am sorry an officer got hurt,” the man said, sitting back down on the prisoners’ bench. He was taken to the county jail in Yaphank and will be returned to court today, to be released without bail if not indicted by a grand jury.