A Cheektowaga man faces nearly 40 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Friday to injuring two undercover police officers during a drug sting last month at a Lackawanna gas station.
Derrick Nailor, 30, of Cleveland Drive, also pleaded to drug and weapons counts.
Meanwhile, a grand jury has cleared undercover Lackawanna Police Officer Joseph Milkowski of criminal accountability for fatally shooting an accomplice who was with Nailor and two others last month when Nailor rammed the group's minivan into a police van, pinning Milkowski between the vehicles.
Another officer, Chuck Jaworski, was thrown out of the police van during the incident.
Milkowski remains off-duty with injuries he suffered in the Feb. 24 incident at the Noco gas station at Grant Boulevard and Abbott Road.
When officers converged on the minivan with four suspects, Nailor slammed the vehicle into reverse in an effort to escape, striking Milkowski, who fired his service weapon through the back window of the suspects' vehicle, killing passenger Rashad Bradford, 29.
Crack cocaine was found near the minivan, police said, and all of those inside the vehicle had criminal records.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said Milkowski could have been killed in the incident, and that the grand jury determined the officer's action were legally "justified."
Milkowski's injuries "underscore how dangerous narcotics enforcement is, but at least this time everyone with a badge went home alive," said Thomas H. Burton, the officer's attorney.
Milkowski has worked undercover for about eight years and currently is assigned to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. He testified before the grand jury last week, Burton said.
Lackawanna Police Chief James L. Michel welcomed both the latest developments in the case.
"I'm very pleased with the guilty plea by Mr. Nailor," Michel said Friday evening, "and the work of the grand jury in exonerating my police officer, who was forced to use deadly force to save his life and possibly the lives of other police officers."
Nailor has been jailed since his arrest last month. He pleaded guilty Friday afternoon before Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka to two counts of assaulting a police officer and weapons and cocaine-related drug charges with the intent to sell.
Part of the plea involved another case in which Nailor threw a revolver out of his vehicle when Buffalo police officers recently tried to stop him on a traffic violation at Genesee and Wende streets. Prosecutors Christopher J. Belling and John P. Feroleto said forensic DNA testing linked the recovered revolver to Nailor.
The prosecutors said they will urge the district attorney to recommend the judge impose the maximum 37-year prison term on Nailor when he returns to court for sentencing June 28.
News Staff Reporter Lou Michel contributed to this report.