Man charged with attempted murder of Stamford cop pleads not guilty to gun charge
Published 6:16 pm, Wednesday, May 4, 2011
BRIDGEPORT -- A 24-year-old man facing state charges for the attempted murder of a Stamford police officer on March 18 entered a not guilty plea Wednesday in federal court for criminal possession of a firearm by a felon.
Marcellus Catchings, a parolee who has lived in Bridgeport and Stamford, is being held in lieu of $2 million bond on the state level. He made a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons at the Brien McMahon Federal Courthouse in Bridgeport and was ordered held without bail for the federal charge.
Catchings, dressed in an oversized gray Bridgeport Correctional Center sweatshirt and prison-issued khaki pants was led in to the courtroom in handcuffs. He was represented by U.S. Public Defender Paul Thomas.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale said Catchings, a convicted felon, was in violation of federal law by being in possession of a firearm during a March 18 police chase. Catchings faces up to 10 years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines if convicted.
Stamford Police Chief Robert Nivakoff said during a news conference the day after the incident that Catchings pointed a 9-mm handgun at Officer William Gray during a foot chase near 500 Pacific St., and attempted to fire, but the gun jammed. Gray fired his weapon at nearly the same time, and missed.
Nivakoff said Gray, a fourth-year officer, was in pursuit of Catchings after there was a report of an armed man in the city's South End. He had ordered Catchings to stop, but the suspect took off, police said.
The two men ended up about 10 feet from each other and Catchings pointed his weapon at Gray's midsection when he attempted to fire, according to police. Gray and several other officers charged at Catchings after they realized the gun had misfired and after a "tremendous" fight, they took him into custody, Nivakoff said. Police believe Catchings was under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug PCP during the incident.
According to court records, Catchings was convicted of armed robbery in 2006, serving four years in prison, followed by six-years of special parole, which he remains on. He also has misdemeanor and felony charges for drugs and failure to appear in court on his record.
Catchings' father, who is also named Marcellus, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for beating a taxi driver to death in 1989. He pled guilty to manslaughter charges in 2006 following a 16-year investigation by Stamford police.
The younger Catchings is scheduled to appear in federal court next on July 12 for jury selection in Hartford. His next Stamford court appearance is set for June 6.