District Attorney Hoovler Announces Indictment
in Shooting of City of Middletown Police Officer
Man faces up to 40 years to Life in Prison for Attempting to Murder
City Middletown Police Officer
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, Desean J. Owens, 29, of the Bronx, was arraigned before Orange County Court Judge William L. DeProspo on charges related to the shooting of a City of Middletown Police Officer on August 29, 2020. The indictment charges Owens with crimes including Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Aggravated Assault Upon a Police Officer, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. The maximum sentence for Attempted Murder in the First Degree is 40 years to Life in state prison.
The indictment alleges that on August 29, 2020, on Myrtle Avenue in Middletown, Owens attempted to kill a City of Middletown Police Officer, by shooting him with a 9 mm. pistol. The police officer was struck in the arm. The police officer shot back at Owens, wounding him. The charge of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree pertains to allegations that when Owens fired his pistol it was pointed not only in the direction of the police officer, but also at a number of civilians, including several children, who were in a car near where the police was standing. The charge of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree pertains to allegations that Owens knowingly entered and remained unlawfully in a residence on Myrtle Avenue armed with the 9 mm pistol and had refused several orders by the resident to leave the house.
Bail was set in the amount of one-million dollars cash, or three-million dollars secured bond, or ten million dollars partially secured bond. Owens, who is the custody of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was arraigned at the hospital where he is still being treated, and all the parties at the arraignment, appeared through the use of video cameras. The case was adjourned to September 30, 2020.
In 2015, the District Attorney’s Office and all Orange County police chiefs adopted a protocol to be used when police officers use deadly physical force that results in death or serious physical injury to a suspect or bystander. The protocol designates the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as the “lead agency” in an officer-involved fatality investigation and provides that the New York State Police will be contacted and will be asked to assist the District Attorney in the investigation. The New York State Police are to process the scene of the incident to preserve all forensic evidence and will perform forensic analysis. The protocol is designed to enhance public confidence in the outcome of officer-involved fatality investigations, by removing the “involved police agency” from the investigation.
At the request of and with the consent of the City of Middletown Police Department, the protocol was activated in this investigation. New York State Police investigators and troopers responded to the scene of the shooting and have recovered evidence and interviewed witnesses. District Attorney Hoovler personally responded to the scene along with Assistant District Attorneys and a District Attorney’s Office criminal investigators. The City of Middletown Police Department is fully cooperating in the investigation and, pursuant to the protocol, safeguarded the scene until the State Police arrived.
Pursuant to an Executive Order signed by Governor Cuomo, which was later codified, certain police-involved shootings are investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. After being briefed on the incident, District Attorney Hoovler spoke to an Assistant Attorney General, who agreed that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office should continue its investigation. The Executive Order does not apply to instances where the person shot by the police officer was armed.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department and the New York State Police for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
“I pray that the police officer who was shot in this incident will have a full and speedy recovery,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “The attempted murder of a police officer is a crime which strikes at the very heart of public safety and the criminal justice system. Those who direct violence at police officers and endanger children deserve severe punishment.”
The case is being prosecuted by Chief Assistant Attorney Christopher P. Borek and Senior Assistant District Attorney Christopher Kelly.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.