Trial opened today for a man charged with a bungled carjacking that ended with him ramming an NYPD patrol car. Leon Bunting, age 37, faces a charge of attempted murder of a police captain, using a stolen car as a weapon, among other charges.
Bunting appeared this morning at the Kings County Supreme Court. He was arrested on March 20, 2012 after he allegedly carjacked a vehicle on the corner of Dumont and Powell Streets in Brooklyn. Police said Bunting drove the stolen car backwards through a school zone as children were being released from classes. The prosecution claims that he drove at a speed of up to 60 miles per hour, then rotated forward and drove onto a sidewalk for several minutes. The incident led to a high-speed chase, which ended as Bunting crashed the vehicle into a patrol car, manned by a captain named Kelly.
Bunting appeared before Judge Vincent Del Giudice in a mostly empty courtroom. In the middle row sat his mother, who spoke words of encouragement to her son in broken English. As he looked back to face her, she smiled and raised her fist.
Bunting faces a laundry list of charges including: Attempted Murder of a Public Officer, Reckless Driving, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Attempted Assault with Intent to Seriously Injure with a Deadly Weapon and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.
But today, the first day of Bunting’s trial, was taken up with tangential issues relating to the charge of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property as well Reckless Driving. As the case unfolded, it seemed clear that the prosecution may have an uphill battle in proving parts of its case against Bunting. The unavailability of key witnesses is the biggest hurdle. Several times during the proceedings, Judge Del Giudice noted the prosecution’s failure to produce key eyewitnesses, including corroborating witnesses as to Bunting’s rate of speed and whether school children were present in the area.
The case resumes on Monday, October 7th.