CHAUTAQUA COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) – The criminal case against a Cheektowaga man who is accused of trying to kill a Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Deputy is moving forward quickly.
Justin Haffa, 21, was scheduled to be in Town of Pomfret court Thursday for a preliminary hearing, but that hearing was cancelled after a Chautauqua County Grand Jury voted to indict him Wednesday, putting the case in the hands of the Chautauqua County Court.
The indictment comes just days after Haffa allegedly pulled a knife on a deputy as she was giving him a field sobriety test on Route 60 in the town of Pomfret. The Sheriff says the deputy tried to use her gun to defend herself, but Haffa got the gun away from her and took off. He was spotted on Putnam Road hours later and taken into custody.
According to the felony complaint, Haffa made a voluntary statement after the incident. Officials won’t say what Haffa said.
“I don’t want to comment on the evidence at this time,” acting Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson told New 4 Thursday morning. “It’s such a serious case, I don’t want to jeopardize the prosecution of this matter.”
That said, Swanson said he’s confident he’s got a strong case. “We put together a very good case,” he said. “We have an excellent team that worked on this in the Sheriff’s Department. They had all hands on deck, obviously, as it was one of their own that was allegedly attacked, and they put together a very good case for me. My office is very pleased with the work they did.”
That case was brought before a Grand Jury pretty quickly after Haffa’s arrest. “I can say that there have been times in the past when our office gets a very serious matter like this, where we will put the case together and get it in front of a Grand Jury to get things moving and to circumvent the preliminary hearing process and get it right into county court where we can move forward towards a trial,” Swanson explained.
Haffa is now scheduled to appear in Chautauqua County Court on Monday, September 19, at 9:30 a.m. Swanson was tight lipped about the nature of that hearing. He said everyone would learn more about the case at that point.
For now, Haffa is being held without bail, and the investigation into what happened continues. “With allegations of this nature, obviously, the investigation never really closes. We’ll be making efforts to uncover really anything that we can that will help and assist in prosecuting this man,” Swanson said.
Haffa is facing up to 40 years to life in prison if he’s convicted on the top charge.