Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack Man Gets Prison for Attempted Murder of Officer

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack Man Gets Prison for Attempted Murder of Officer

Article excerpt

A Hackensack man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for the attempted murder of a city police officer.

Robert Leonardis, 25, shot at a Hackensack police car, missing Officer Joseph Ayoubi by inches when the bullet pierced the dashboard near the officer's radio. After a chase, Leonardis mimicked shooting at police again and officers opened fire - unloading 40 to 50 rounds, striking him 15 times.

Leonardis appeared in court in a wheelchair. He waved to family members and made the sign of the cross after being wheeled to the defense table.

In June, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a police officer and three charges of aggravated assault in connection with the July 23, 2013, shootout.

He also pleaded guilty to charges from two separate indictments. Leonardis admitted to burglarizing an Oakland home and committing an aggravated assault by stabbing a former friend who had barged into his home and threatened his family members with a tire iron because he believed Leonardis was having an affair with his wife. Leonardis, in pleading guilty, admitted that he stabbed the man after family members had disarmed him of the tire iron.

The alleged Bloods gang member was "in a dark place" when he provoked officers, said his attorney, Vincent Basile.

"He didn't care whether he lived or died," Basile said, adding that Leonardis takes responsibility for his actions.

The defendant's mother made an emotional plea to the court for mercy on her son so that she could again one day hug and kiss him.

She apologized to police for her son's behavior. "We pray every single day for each one of them to go home safely and sound to their families," she said. "They're there to protect us, and I appreciate all they do for us."

More than three dozen police officers, several with Hackensack police badges, lined six rows in the gallery for the sentencing. …

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