Number of people charged for allegedly coughing or spitting on police during COVID outbreak

Erie County

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)–A number of people have been charged for allegedly either coughing or spitting on police officers during arrests during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn’s Office.

59-year-old Darren Hamilton of Buffalo allegedly stole from a gas station on Hertel Ave. and harassed a customer on May 4. While placing him under arrest, police say Hamilton spit and coughed at them and made a comment indicating he tested positive for COVID-19. He was charged with attempted assault.

On May 1, police say they arrested Aisha Rodriguez, 47 of Buffalo for allegedly violated an order of protection. She allegedly spat at three cell block attendants and made a statement indicating she was positive for COVID-19 while police processed her. Police also charged her with attempted assault.

Officers responded to a disorderly conduct call in the Town of West Seneca on April 6 and arrested 24-year-old Alex Laboy of Buffalo. Police say he was allegedly intoxicated and refused to listen to officers. He spit at an officer while they arrested him and said he was positive for COVID-19. Police charged him with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

During a traffic stop in the Town of Lancaster on April 2, 27-year-old Lindsey Schott of Lancaster allegedly coughed toward an officer’s face multiple times while being questioned. Police say she also made a comment saying she tested positive for COVID. They arrested her after finding her in possession of a small quantity of marijuana and one loose Adderall pill. Police charged Schott with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, and menacing.

While officers initiated a traffic stop on March 29 on Peter Street near Amherst Street in the City of Buffalo, they say they smelled marijuana inside 21-year-old Abdulla Abdalla’s car. The Buffalo man allegedly would not exit the vehicle after officers asked him to. Abdalla allegedly spat in the officer’s face twice as the officer attempted to put him in handcuffs. Police charged him with obstruction of governmental administration, harassment, and resisting arrest.

Police also arrested 25-year-old Bryce Sortino of the Town of Tonawanda in the City of Buffalo on March 26. Authorities say they were processing Sortino on a robbery charge when he allegedly spit on two Buffalo Police officers. He also allegedly told them he was COVID positive. Police charged him with obstruction of governmental administration, harassment, and resisting arrest.

In the Town of West Seneca, while being arrested for an alleged DWI, 35-year-old Jesse Baker is accused of coughing on a police officer and telling them he was positive for COVID on March 15. Police charged him with DWI.

“By performing their duties to keep our communities safe and interacting with the public, police officers and first responders are at a greater risk of contracting this virus. Any person who intentionally coughs or spits at a member of law enforcement during this health crisis will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This behavior intentionally threatens the health and livelihood of our officers and first responders, and it will not be tolerated,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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