TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — An arrest has been made in connection to a hit-and-run that left a Town of Tonawanda officer hospitalized.
Dareious Akbar, 19, was charged with attempted murder Tuesday evening according to Tonawanda Town Supervisor Joe Emminger.
Police say it was around 8 p.m. Monday when Officer David Piatek stopped the driver of a black Kia Sportage on Sheridan Parkside Drive. The car was reported stolen. Police say the driver sped off as they were starting to interview the driver, dragging Officer Piatek. He was seriously hurt.
“At some point in time, during their interview of the occupants, the vehicle fled the scene at a high rate of speed, and Officer Piatek was dragged for approximately 60 feet or more. He sustained a head injury and was treated at the scene by not only our officers, but our paramedics, that work here in the police department, transported to ECMC, where he is now currently in stable condition in the ICU with head trauma and being evaluated,” explained Chief James Stauffiger, Town of Tonawanda Police.
Town of Tonawanda Police Chief Stauffiger tells me he believes a lot of these car thefts are due to a combination of “raise the age” and “bail reform”.
“That would be my assumption, Eileen. I can’t say for certain that’s what’s going through their minds. But it would seem that there is a little bit of a lack of accountability involved in regard to how ‘raise the age’ and ‘bail reform’ has really changed society for the most part where we don’t have the ability now to have this sense of respect for law enforcement in general, as well as people just obeying the laws of society. I think that this is definitely a fallout from that,” responded Stauffiger.
There have been other officers injured in incidents that involved stolen vehicles. Officer Troy Blackchiefwas badly hurt as he was run over trying to deploy a spike strip during a chase in Cheektowaga in February.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had yet another instance of a police officer getting hurt trying to stop a stolen vehicle,” declared
Tim Carney, chief, Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Carney says he reviewed data from his department since last May find 70-stolen vehicles in parts of Erie County with 90 to 95 percent of those cars stolen in the county had keys inside them or the vehicles were left unlocked.
“Obviously as with everything, there’s probably more in the more populated areas, but all in all, it’s generally equal around the county. I don’t think there’s been one city, town, or village that hasn’t in some way been affected by a huge increase in the number of motor vehicles that have been stolen,” replied Carney. “I certainly think, with the advent of the key fob, it’s it’s certainly easier to steal a motor vehicle these days. I think what it boils down to is people just get complacent and I hate to use the word — lazy, but you get lazy, you pull in your garage at the end of the day. You leave your fob in the car and forget to put your garage door down at the end of the night — next thing you know you wake up in the morning your car’s gone.”
You can help cut back on the number of stolen vehicles and protect your own car with this simple message from law enforcement.
“Lock your valuables lock your car. Keep your key fobs in a place where they’re not readily available when you’re at your residence,” described Carney.
“If you have a Kia — my advice would be — lock it up the best that you can and maybe keep it out of view. If you put it behind a gate or in a garage or block it in with your other vehicles to the best of your ability. Understand that not everybody can do that and maybe they have to leave it on the street. But there are other safety measures that those people can take to prevent that vehicle from being taken away because essentially, people are getting hurt because of this,” Stauffiger suggested.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest for the hit and run. Crime Stoppers can be reached at 716-867-6161.
“What I can say right now is that the investigation is well underway and our criminal investigation bureau is working diligently on this. It’s too early to indicate what exactly we’re doing with that investigation to my mind not wanting to compromise the investigation itself. But what I can say is that I’m confident that, through the work that we do, we will find these individuals and hold them accountable for what happened to Officer Piatek.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Town of Tonawanda Police Department at (716) 879-6614, or their confidential tip line at (716) 879-6606.