Officer Anthony Fanara stood up in Erie County Court Friday morning and told the judge that he wasn't looking for a fight the day that Andre Fuller tried to kill him.
He said it was Fuller who wanted trouble on June 15, and he found it -- fleeing from police after committing a robbery, and then, when being pulled to the ground, sticking a loaded gun into Fanara's chest and pulling the trigger twice. The gun didn't fire.
Fuller, who is 19 now but was 18 at the time of the incident, was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison for the attempted murder of Fanara and 15 years for carrying the illegal weapon.
Fanara said afterward he was satisfied with Judge Thomas P. Franczyk's sentence, although he had asked for the maximum of 20 years. The officer told the court that keeping Fuller in prison would not only be justice for the crime he committed, it also would protect other police officers from a man who had no qualms about killing them.
Fanara is still at work as a member of the Buffalo Police Department's Strike Force unit, but he said the incident has changed him. He told the judge he thinks about what might have happened often -- every time he drives past Doat and Stewart streets, where he tackled Fuller, and even when he is at home.
"Every time I put on my uniform in front of my children and my wife, the act of him trying to take my life will stay with me forever," he said.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Morgan asked for a 20 year sentence.
"Trying to take the life of a police officer is an assault on the security and safety of us all," Morgan said. "What makes him more dangerous is his lack of empathy for others. He was willing to die that day for the chance to shoot and kill a police officer."
She reminded the court that Fuller admitted he had been carrying the gun for two years, and that he knew it worked because he had fired it in a field earlier that day. Why the gun didn't fire is still open to question.
Morgan said one firearms expert reported that a feature of this particular weapon was that it wouldn't fire when the barrel was pressed flush with something, such as an officer's bulletproof vest.
Defense attorney Giovanni Genovese said that no such report had been presented. The case did not go to trial because Fuller entered a guilty plea. Fuller had the gun's safety on and knew that the gun wouldn't fire, Genovese said.
"Which also begs the question, why pull the trigger once or twice? That shows homicidal intent," Franczyk said.
The judge was attentive while Genovese described Fuller's difficult upbringing. As an infant he was taken away from his drug-addicted mother. He was diagnosed as bipolar when he was 11 and spent most of his adolescence in detention or under the supervision of Family Court. When he wasn't locked up, the boy became a heavy user of drugs and alcohol, his attorney said.
"On the day of the incident, he was on an exorbitant amount of drugs," Genovese said, citing a doctor's report that said such drug use could inspire aggression and impulsive behavior.
When he wasn't high, Genovese said, Fuller volunteered at a Boys & Girls Club, coaching kids in basketball. He also compared Fuller's situation to that of "the young suburban kid who goes into a bank and robs it at gunpoint" to support a drug addiction.
The judge didn't accept that as an accurate comparison. He instead considered Fuller's early start in the criminal justice system, beginning at age 14 when he was put in juvenile detention for delinquency, followed in 2013 by attempted larceny, and then a youthful offender conviction for another larceny.
Fuller also was suspended from school in sixth grade "because you quote-unquote accidentally stabbed a teacher," the judge said.
A presentencing examination found that Fuller has antisocial personality disorder, indicated by a pervasive disregard for the rights of others. That included, Franczyk said, deceitfulness, lying, using false names, conning others for pleasure and profit, irresponsibility, and a lack of remorse and indifference.
"And I'm getting that now," the judge said. "If this was something you really regretted, I would get that vibe from you --- and I really don't."
Fuller stood nearly motionless beside his attorney throughout the proceeding and said nothing on his own behalf. Although friends and family members of defendants often come to court when their loved ones are sentenced, no one sat in the gallery for Fuller on Friday.
Fuller has been jailed since his arrest in June and becomes eligible for parole before he turns 40. He then would serve five years post-release supervision, as ordered by the judge.