Man sentenced to 12 years for firing at officer

"Frankly, you're a menace," said Superior Court Judge Frank A. Iannotti.

By Melissa Pionzio
The Hartford Courant
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Shortly before he was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for attempting to shoot a Middletown police officer last December, Maurice Brackett insisted he was not shooting at the officer.

"Anybody knows in their right mind, if I pointed a gun at a cop, he could shoot me. I only pleaded guilty because my family wanted me to. I pleaded guilty to something I didn't do,'' Brackett said. "I know in my right mind, I didn't point a gun at that cop."

Brackett, 28, of Cromwell, a seven-time convicted felon, apparently wounded himself in the incident. Police said Brackett fired two shots while fleeing from the police on Stack Street in the city's North End. The first shot missed Officer Douglas Clark, and Brackett wounded himself with the second shot, police said.

MacDonough School was locked down for about 20 minutes after the shooting. Clark did not fire his weapon, police said.

At the time of the incident, police had a warrant for Brackett for breach of peace and threatening. Clark, who has been a city police officer since 2001, had been patrolling the area in a marked cruiser and had just witnessed a drug transaction when he attempted to stop Brackett's Volkswagen Jetta, court record show.

On Friday, Brackett pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine to first-degree attempt to commit assault and attempt to commit assault on a public officer. An Alford plea means he does not admit guilt but concedes that the prosecution probably has enough evidence to convict him. He also pleaded guilty to several firearms charges. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with a mandatory minimum to serve of five years.

Brackett has an 11-year criminal history that includes charges of narcotics and weapons possessions, domestic violence and threatening. On Friday, his attorney, Gerald Klein, said Brackett started using alcohol and drugs at a young age and on at least one occasion lost a large sum of money gambling. He also has a penchant for guns, Klein said, and is the father to six children with four different women, one of whom described him as having a bad temper. But during his dealings with Brackett, Klein said, the troubled man was always a gentleman.

"In dealing with this young man, he's a gentlemen, he understands what's going on, he's not difficult to deal with,'' said Klein. "The longest sentence he has served is 30 months.''

Superior Court Judge Frank A. Iannotti told Brackett that he was lucky that he met Clark that December day, because of the cool manner in which the police officer handled the situation.

"Your criminal history is pretty significant,'' said Iannotti. "What you're standing here for today is an escalation. Frankly, you're a menace. You are constantly out there doing the wrong thing. When it gets to a point where you take out a gun, point a weapon at a police officer, that's pretty serious and that's when your sentence gets to double digits.''

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