Zachary L. Clark, the 27-year old man who shot city of Cortland police officer Chad Knapp three times on March 27 of last year, was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison (with a possible maximum life sentence) at Cortland County Court Thursday afternoon.
Clark’s charge of first-degree attempted murder led to the 35 years-to-life of incarceration. The rest of Clark’s charges are concurrent with the first-degree attempted murder charge, county judge Julie Campbell said.
The sentencings for Clark’s other charges are as follows (All charges are concurrent with the previous charge imposed):
- 20 years (plus 5 years of post-release supervision) each for first-degree assault and aggravated assault upon a police officer charges
- 8 years (plus 3 years of post-release supervision) for each of his two counts of menacing a police or peace officer
- 364 days each for his third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, use of a dangerous weapon and two counts of second-degree menacing (misdemeanors) charges
- 15 days for his disorderly conduct charge
“If a person like Clark shoots a police officer, they are highly capable of violence towards anyone,” Campbell said.
District attorney Patrick Perfetti and defense attorney Jerome Mayersak each delivered pre-sentencing speeches.
Perfetti recommended 40 years-to-life in prison for Clark, with his reasoning being that Clark made Knapp a target “merely because he was a police officer.”
“Being a target as a whole is something you pray never happens to anyone,” Perfetti said.
Perfetti noted Knapp has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the incident last year.
“He is triggered by the idea of wearing a police officer uniform once again,” he said. “He will have to live with that evening for the rest of his life.”
Mayersak said Clark maintains his innocence, ever since Clark pleaded not guilty last September.
Mayersak believes there is a “significant mental health issue” with Clark, and “ones that he is not fully aware of.”
“I believe it’s paranoia and schizophrenia,” he said. “And he’s been dealing with horrific moments in his life as well.”
Mayersak recommended 20 years-to-life in prison for Clark, adding that “if he’s able to work on himself while incarcerated, maybe he’ll be able to be productive in society.”
“I don’t doubt this is a tragedy for two young men,” Mayersak referring to Clark and Knapp. “Knapp has the support of his fellow officers and family…Clark only has his attorneys.”
Clark, who has 30 days to appeal his sentencing, declined to comment.