Parolee accused of trying to kill an RPD officer has violent past

Leon Roach is accused of attempting to kill a Rochester Police officer during a confrontation last month. His criminal past dates back to age 15.

Rochester, N.Y. - The Rochester man charged with attempting to kill a Rochester police officer tried, on Thursday, to disrupt his own court proceeding. Leon Roach was quickly shut down by the judge during his arraignment on charges involving Officer Amber Grosch and two civilians.

13WHAM News has learned Roach is a parolee with a violent record dating back to age 15. The newest charges involve an incident from September 14th, 2017.

At 7:50 p.m., Rochester police arrived at 96 Louise street to find two people injured on the lawn and two others hanging out the second floor window, screaming. Also inside that residence, a man wielding a butcher knife identified by police as 47-year-old Leon Roach.

Officer Grosch, who had been on the force less than a year, was one of the first inside. "The defendant allegedly jumped out and attempted to stab her," said Prosecutor Christine Callanan.

The knife struck the officer squarely in her chest - which was also protected by her police vest. "He jumped out and just came swinging the knife. There was no mistake of what he was doing. If he were successful, it would have resulted in her death," said Callanan.

Records indicate Roach was first arrested as a youthful offender in 1987 and that he violated probation twice. He was kept at Hillside Children's Center until he reached age 18.

As an adult, he has been arrested for seven felonies and sent to prison for robbery in 1990 and 1993. After his release, he was arrested again in 2001 in a drug sting for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years probation. He was on probation at the time of the Louise Street incident.

Other court papers indicated a troubled childhood. Roach was born addicted to heroin because of a drug-addicted mother. He lost his mother to AIDS and his brother to homicide. A pre-sentence report for a prior proceeding indicates he has struggled with alcohol and drugs.

In court Thursday, Roach appeared agitated, arguing repeatedly for a new attorney. "I have multiple complaints...I want a new attorney...Nobody's paying attention to me," he said.

Judge Sam Valierani issued a stern warning: "Let me warn you respectfully that if you disrupt the proceedings, we will conduct your appearances without you here." A hearing has been scheduled to determine whether a new attorney will be assigned.

Trial is scheduled for March 12, 2018. He is also charged with assaulting two roommates.

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