Man guilty of aggravated assault against Joliet police officer

A Will County jury found a Lockport man guilty of aggravated assault against a Joliet police officer who was attempting to arrest him three years ago.

The Will County State’s Attorney’s office said Friday that James Pacheco, 38, was found guilty of aggravated assault for accelerating his vehicle toward the officer, aggravated fleeing and eluding, and drunk driving. He faces between two and six years in prison. Pacheco is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Officers Adam Stapleton and Eric Zettergren were responding to reports of someone breaking the window of a Chevrolet pickup truck on July 30, 2012, near the 300 block of Union Street.

According to the state’s attorney’s office, the officers spotted a black Nissan belonging to Pacheco, who was intoxicated and had just smashed the window of his former landlord’s truck.

After attempting to flee, Pacheco was stopped by a crossing train in the 900 block of Washington Street. Prosecutors said he then turned his Nissan around and accelerated toward Stapleton, who had exited the squad car.

The officer then fired seven shots into the windshield of the vehicle, as he was moving out of the way to avoid being hit. Pacheco was struck in the arm and face, but continued to flee in the Nissan until he struck a light pole near State and Division streets in Lockport.

Pacheco continued to struggle with police and resist arrest while he was inside the crashed Nissan, forcing Stapleton to use a stun gun to subdue him. The defendant’s blood-alcohol level was tested at .184 after the incident, according to the state’s attorney.

“This was an extraordinarily dangerous situation for these two police officers,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a release. “Officer Stapleton’s life was in danger when he opened fire on the vehicle in an attempt to stop this wildly erratic driver from running him over and going on to possibly harm others.”

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