NY cop slasher gets 25-to-life


Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc.

A Queens man convicted of the attempted murder of a police officer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison yesterday after the victim told a judge that his attacker deserved no mercy.

While nearly 40 fellow cops watched in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens, Officer Robert Burns spoke of his suffering after being slashed in the neck by Radcliffe Meeks.

"I know that his intent wasn't to end my career that night; his intent was to end my life," Burns, 37, told Justice Michael Aloise. "I feel he was so willing to take a life, he should be willing to give up his own."

A jury on March 9 found Meeks, 33, of St. Albans, guilty of first-degree attempted murder and other charges.

Burns, a five-year veteran, and his partner, Officer Shannon Pearl, testified that Meeks punched Burns, then pulled a carpet knife on him as they responded to a call in Jamaica on March 22, 2005, from a resident who said someone had threatened to shoot him. Assigned to a narcotics unit in the 113th Police Precinct, Burns and Pearl said they were in plainclothes but identified themselves as police officers and repeatedly called for Meeks to drop his weapon.

Meeks was shot in the arm by Pearl after he slashed her partner's throat. But Meeks still had to be wrestled down by other officers who answered Pearl's radio call.

Burns was rushed to a hospital with a gaping wound running from below his left ear to the collarbone and on his right thumb. He testified that he is permanently scarred physically and emotionally, has limited mobility due to nerve and muscle damage around his neck and may lose his career as a result.

Meeks testified that he feared he was being robbed and was unaware it was the police who had confronted him. Before learning his sentence yesterday, Meeks read two lengthy letters in which he at turns apologized for attacking Burns, proclaimed his innocence and begged for freedom.

"This jail life is not for me," he said. "Please set me free, I beg you. My actions were out of fear. Please pardon my weakness. I have learned not to have any altercations with anyone."

When Aloise had him led away, Meeks yelled, "You're no Pontius Pilate," referring to the Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus Christ.

Applause from the many officers present drowned out his further remarks. 

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