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Police Chief on injured RFD Deputy Chief
By Jane Flasch
Macedon, N.Y.-- Minutes before a fleeing suspect crashed into the vehicle seriously injuring an off duty member of the Rochester Fire Department, police were preparing to call off the chase.
"We had lost sight of the (suspect's) vehicle. At that point I was in the process of calling off the pursuit," said Macedon Police Chief John Colella. Colella says the two pursuit vehicles had become trapped behind a tractor trailer on East Main Street in Rochester and were more than nine blocks behind the suspect.
Chief Colella said it's policy not to chase down suspects for minor crimes or traffic violations, including shoplifting. But he said all of that changed in the parking lot of the Macedon Walmart Friday afternoon when the suspect tried to use his car as a weapon.
"He was driving at an aggressive high rate of speed with no regard for anyone who was in that parking lot," said the Chief.
He knows what happened because he was there. At 2:30 p.m. on "Black Friday" afternoon the parking lot was full of shoppers. Chief Colella was driving one of two Macedon police vehicles responding to the call for a shoplifter. He witnessed the fleeing suspect attempt to take out one of the police cars, and then his own.
"The individual hit the accelerator and drove straight at my vehicle. At the last second I took evasive action. I don't know how he was able to avoid the collision," he said.
The driver, 43-year-old Charles Domicello has an extensive criminal record including 22 arrests, three of them violent felonies. He served time in prison for burglary and has also been charged in the past with fleeing from police.
Domicello was driving a borrowed car so when police ran the plate they didn't find out the information about his violent past until after the crash. However Chief Colella says his actions in the parking lot were clear and dangerous felonies.
When Domicello took off in his red pickup, he hit speeds up to 91 miles an hour on Route 31 out of Macedon.
"He had every opportunity to slow his vehicle down and comply with law enforcement throughout the entire incident which lasted 15 minutes," said Chief Colella.
Macedon police did not witness the crash. Nine blocks earlier, while on East Main Street in Rochester, the police vehicles became trapped behind a tractor trailer.
"I was in the process of calling off the pursuit and at that time we came around the tractor trailer and came upon the accident scene," said Colella.
He said the suspect darted around the tractor trailer and would have known police were no longer trailing him. At that point he could have slowed down. "He had the ability to terminate that on his end. So ultimately the responsibility relies on him," said Chief Colella.
Deputy Chief Martin McMillan was seriously injured in the crash and remains in the hospital. The Macedon Police Chief has not lost sight of that. "It's ultimately a decision that I made. I stand by that decision," Colella said of the pursuit.
"The injuries to the deputy chief weigh on my heart heavily and it's something that I'm going to have to deal with," he added.