Lockport man gets 4 years for aggravated assault against Joliet police officer

A Lockport man was sentenced to four years in prison for accelerating his vehicle toward a Joliet police officer who was attempting to arrest him in 2012, according to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

In September, a jury found James Pacheco, 38, guilty of aggravated assault, aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The state’s attorney said 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. Upon arrival, they spotted Pacheco’s black Nissan in the vicinity.

Pacheco was allegedly intoxicated and had just smashed the window of his former landlord’s truck.

While attempting to flee, Pacheco turned his vehicle around and accelerated toward Stapleton, according to police. The officer, who had exited his squad car, fired seven shots into the windshield. Pacheco was struck in the arm and face, and eventually struck a light pole near State and Division streets in Lockport.

Police said the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was tested at 0.184 after the incident.

“Officer Stapleton opened fire on that vehicle in an attempt to stop this drunk and wildly erratic driver from running him over and going on to possibly harm others,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a release. “The situation these two officers confronted on Washington Street was extremely volatile and potentially deadly. James Pacheco will spend significant time in prison for putting them in harm’s way.”

Pacheco pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property for breaking the vehicle window the day his trial began on the assault charges, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

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