East Flatbush

Teen faces years behind bars for running over a police officer

December 6, 2018 By Christina Carrega Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Filiberto Coalt, 35, died from injuries sustained after being hit by an SUV in Williamsburg earlier this month, according to police. No arrests have been made. Photo by David Von Diemar courtesy of Unsplash

The choices a Brooklyn teenager made on June 3, 2017 will haunt both him and an NYPD officer for the rest of their lives.

That night, Anti-Crimes Unit Officer Dalsh Veve went to work. 15-year-old Justin Murrell was joyriding with his cousin, his 19-year-old girlfriend and another passenger in a stolen Honda Civic from Hewlett, Long Island.  

Veve and other plainclothes officers reported to Tilden Avenue and E. 54th Street where a 911 call for shots fired was made around 11:30 p.m. The loud noises turned out to be fireworks, said Kwama Downes, who lives on that block, during her testimony.

As the officers continued to investigative, Veve noticed Murrell behind the wheel of a well-maintained vehicle parked at a hydrant. As the 10-year veteran approached the car, Murrell put the pedal the metal and “knocked Veve off his feet,” as Carvajal told the packed courtroom.

“He did not choose to stop to get arrested for underage driving or driving without a license. He chose to take the car down Tilden and down E. 53rd Street as Officer Veve hung on for dear life,” said Carvajal.

The other plainclothes officers went to chase down Murrell both on foot and in unmarked cars.

As Murrell’s car accelerated to 50 miles per hour in the residential neighborhood, Veve managed to unholster his service weapon and fire one shot. “He still did not break … Officer Veve fired a second shot that hit Justin Murrell in the mouth and caused him to crash into a parked car as Officer Veve fell into the street,” said Carvajal.

An injured Murrell allegedly discarded his bloody sweater, walked 20 blocks to Kings County Hospital where police officers had already arrived, trying to save Veve.

“Because of this young man, Justin Murrell, Officer Dalsh Veve will never be the same,” said Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal in her opening statements in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“Justin Murrell chose not to go into the emergency room for treatment. He intentionally did not go in. He stood across the street, took off his jeans and put them into the sewer, called a cab and went to Brookdale [Hospital],” Carvajal said.

As Murrell was treated for the gunshot wound over the course of two weeks, Veve spent a year in the hospital for a traumatic brain injury. He won’t be able to use the bathroom on his own or speak and doesn’t recognize his wife or 4-year-old daughter, Carvajal said.

During Carvajal’s opening statements, Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen Benevolent Association, arrived in the courtroom. Lynch told reporters outside the court that Veve goes to therapy everyday and cannot skip it in order to come to court to speak for himself.

“This was evil no matter how young he is,” said Lynch, who referred to Murrell as a “baby-faced bandit.”

Carvajal told the jurors that she intends to prove that Murrell committed first-degree attempted murder of a police officer.

“Justin Murrell did not intend to kill Officer Veve … His intention was not to crash the car or injure Officer Veve,” said one of Murrell’s attorneys, Natalie Peeples, during her opening statements.

Peeples did not contest that Murrell stole the car, but vehemently disagreed with the prosecutor’s theory that the teen’s actions were intentional.

“He did not know Officer Veve would hold onto a moving vehicle as his partner’s shouted, ‘Veve let go,’ or that he would open fire into a car with others inside or that the shot to his face would cause him to crash,” said Peeples to the jurors.

If convicted, Murrell faces up to 10 years in prison as a juvenile offender.