Buffalo Police Officer Anthony Fanara stopped by Erie County Court on Monday afternoon to see the young man who tried to kill him plead guilty to attempted murder.
Andre Fuller, 19, admitted to Judge Thomas P. Franczyk that on June 15, when Fanara tackled him during a pursuit, he stuck a loaded .45 caliber revolver in the officer’s chest and pulled the trigger.
To the good fortune of both men, the gun didn’t fire.
Fuller pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.
Prosecutor Ashley Morgan also said the higher charge of attempted murder in the first degree would be dismissed. Had Fuller gone to trial and been convicted of the highest charge, attempted murder of a police officer, he could have faced a possible sentence of 40 years to life in prison.
On Monday Franczyk told Fuller that, in consideration of the plea, he would consider a range of 15 to 20 years when Fuller is sentenced Jan. 4.
After the plea, acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. praised Fanara and two other officers who were on the scene for the calm, cool way they made life and death decisions in seconds.
“I am so thankful that nobody lost his life that day,” Flaherty said. “We had three armed police officers and one armed suspect. We are all aware of the deadly shootings between law enforcement and citizens around the country, and we are thankful to have avoided that here.”
One of the other officers, Joseph Acquino, also was in court Monday to see the plea. The third officer is Bradford Pitts.
Fanara said that on June 15 the officers saw Fuller running across Doat Street at about 11:30 p.m. and then spotted another man waving his arms at them. The man told Pitts that Fuller had just robbed him at gunpoint, so Fanara and Acquino went in pursuit, followed by Pitts.
Fanara could see the weapon before he tackled Fuller in the backyard of Fuller’s home at 92 Stewart. Fuller pushed the gun into Fanara’s vest and pulled the trigger twice, but the gun didn’t fire.
Acquino knocked the weapon away and Pitts handcuffed Fuller, who has been in custody since his arrest.
Although police initially thought Fuller hadn’t released the safety on the revolver, Flaherty said a ballistics examination was uncertain.
“It may have been the gun was jammed into his chest so hard the bullet couldn’t leave the chamber,” Flaherty said.
Either way, Fanara said Monday he was glad to have some closure in the case. He joined the Buffalo Police Department in January 2012 after serving in the military, which is the only time he actually was shot, he said. He and the other officers are members of the BPD’s Strike Force unit, which is dedicated to removing illegal weapons from the streets.
Story topics: Erie County Court