A Northwest Woods resident is facing felony charges after he allegedly dragged an East Hampton Town police officer about 20 feet along the ground with his car outside the 7-Eleven in Montauk in an effort to avoid being arrested.
According to the police, at about 4:45 Saturday morning, Andrew Hellman, 36, who recently moved from Sag Harbor, was in his 2001 GMC Yukon Denali with four passengers in the parking lot at the 7-Eleven. Also in the parking lot was police officer Andrew Nimmo, along with at least one other officer. Nimmo is regularly assigned to Montauk during the overnight hours.
According to police, Nimmo saw the occupants of the vehicle engaging in suspicious activity, possibly involving drugs. Police said as Nimmo approached the SUV to question Hellman, suspecting that he was drunk, he saw Hellman try to put the car in drive, and reached in to stop him. Hellman then floored the gas pedal, pulling out of the lot and dragging Nimmo about 20 feet before he fell to the ground, according to police. As he attempted to head west on Montauk Highway, Hellman lost control of his vehicle, which rolled over on its side about 100 yards west of the 7-Eleven.
At least three ambulances were called to the scene. At that hour, during the summer party season, town police maintain a strong presence in downtown Montauk, and reinforcements showed up almost immediately. When they arrived, they found Hellman still behind the wheel. He was removed from the vehicle and questioned.
Police said Nimmo suffered “significant pain and multiple abrasions” and was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Hellman was initially charged with driving while intoxicated as a misdemeanor. He was also charged with felony assault with a weapon — the car — with intent to cause serious injury, as well as another misdemeanor, reckless endangerment.
Hellman and the occupants of the Denali were taken to headquarters to be questioned by police, who, at the same time, were treating the crash as a crime scene. They reported finding, during their search of the vehicle, of 20 packets of cocaine, with a weight of over 1/8 of an ounce, led to Hellman being charged with two more felony charges: possession of narcotics and possession with the intent to sell. Police said their search also turned up Adderall, Vyvanse, and alprazolam, leading to three misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance charges for Hellman.
In addition, he was charged with numerous moving violations.
It took police several hours to process the charges. Hellman was held until his arraignment Sunday morning. When he was being brought into East Hampton Town Justice Court Sunday, through “Legal Aid.”
Hellman told Justice Steven Tekulsky he is in real estate sales and works for Town and Country, but then said that he was indigent, requesting Legal Aid. He also said he has lived in the area most of his life, and is a graduate of East Hampton High School.
Attorney Carl Irace represented Hellman at his arraignment and argued for low bail, saying that he believed that the actual weight of the white powder that police said was cocaine would likely be found by the Suffolk County crime lab to be less than the felony level. Irace also said that the assault charge was at a lower level, and called the chances for actual incarceration for Hellman upon conviction to be “unlikely.” Justice Tekulsky responded by saying, “I would take issue with your prognostication.”
Among those seated in the courtroom was Hellman’s father. When Justice Tekulsky set bail at $7500, $2500 for each of the felonies, he asked if the father would be posting that amount, he responded, “No.”
If Hellman does not make bail, the district attorney’s office has until Thursday afternoon to obtain an indictment from a grand jury, or release Hellman, under state law governing felony charges. He remained in custody as of Tuesday morning.
The Denali, which is registered to Hellman, was impounded by police as evidence.
The four occupants of the Denali were released by police. One, Christopher Metz, 43, was charged with possession of marijuana, and was issued an appearance ticket.