October 11, 2012

Man Accused of Shooting Officer Is Fighting Unrelated Attempted Murder Charge, Has History of Crime

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Jamel Booker, the man charged in connection with shooting an Ithaca Police officer Thursday, has a trail of criminal records that include 13 prior arrests, multiple convictions and an attempted murder charge, according to court records.

Just six months ago, Booker, 22, was battling charges that he attempted to murder a man — allegedly shooting the victim multiple times in the torso after a brawl in the Elks Club on Green Street spiraled out of control. He contested the charges of attempted murder, assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon brought against him in June 2011 in the Tompkins County Court.

As of Friday, however, the docket for the case had been sealed, or expunged from public records, according to officials at Tompkins County Court. Under New York State law, criminal records can only be sealed immediately if the outcome of the case was favorable to the defendant: acquitting the defendant or dismissing the case altogether.

Gwen Wilkinson, the Tompkins County District Attorney, said in an interview Friday afternoon that the attempted murder charge against Booker was dismissed by a lower court.

Wilkinson has appealed the decision, but said that further pursuit of the charge against Booker is currently “pending an appeal from a trial court order of dismissal.”

It would not be the first time Booker was brought to court.

In August 2010, Booker was stopped by Ithaca Police Investigator Donald Barker as he drove by the officer, according to court documents. Moments earlier, Barker had recognized Booker’s face — testifying later that he was “personally aware” that Booker did not have a valid driver’s license.

Before he took action, Barker called for backup “as an extra precaution because the defendant was alleged to have connections to several recent violent crimes,” the documents say.

Proceeding to remove Booker and his three passengers from the car, Barker found a “large, opened knife” and several clear bags of cocaine stashed away in one of the car’s compartments, according to the documents. As the police brought charges against Booker for unlawful possession of cocaine with the intent of selling it and driving without a valid license, Booker’s mother, Janice Booker, told investigators she believed her son would show up to court proceedings because he “has nowhere to go.”

Able to convince that the court throw out the cocaine as evidence because it was not rightfully seized from his car, Booker was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and sentenced to the maximum period of incarceration in January 2011, according to the documents.

Even before the episode, Booker’s “rap sheet,” the court noted, stretched further back into his youth — including sentencing for a three-year probation as a youthful offender that began in 2007; sentencing for a five-year probation in 2008; and time behind the bars of Tompkins County Jail in April 2009.

Original Author: Akane Otani