November 30, 2021

Shooting suspect in court

Admissibility of his statements for trial at issue

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Zachary Clark, center, listens with defense attorney Jerome Mayersak, left during Clark’s appearance in Cortland County Court in February. Clark is accused of shooting a Cortland police officer in March.

A Cortland County judge reserved ruling Thursday on whether statements made by a man accused of shooting a city police officer in March, leading to a 12-hour standoff, could be used as evidence at trial.

Zachary L. Clark, 27, of 12 Elm St., Cortland was arraigned on charges of attempted first-degree murder; attempted second-degree murder; attempted first-degree assault; two counts of menacing a police officer or peace officer; aggravated assault upon a police officer, felonies.

He was also arraigned on third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prohibited use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree menacing, misdemeanors; disorderly conduct, a violation.

Police say Clark shot Officer Chad Knapp three times on March 27, as Knapp responded to a domestic dispute at 12 Elm St., leading to a 12hour standoff. Knapp was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, treated and released the next day.

Clark had been drinking and got into a violent dispute with relatives around 7:30 p.m. March 27, court documents show. Bryant Holl, Clark’s brother, would not let Clark borrow his car.

When Knapp responded, he was shot.

Clark surrendered around 8 a.m. March 28. He was initially taken to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center and then to Upstate University Hospital for a non-life threatening gunshot wound to his left forearm.

On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Victoria Monty and defense attorney Jerome Mayersak Cortland Police Officer Kim Lawrence about her interactions with Clark as she traveled with him after Clark surrendered to police on March 28.

Lawrence told Monty she was called to pick up Clark on Clinton Avenue, traveled with him to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center for the gunshot wound, and later to Upstate. She later traveled back with Clark to the Cortland police station.

Lawrence said prior to traveling to Upstate, she informed Clark that he was going to be unhandcuffed while being put into an ambulance, then handcuffed again in the ambulance, and whether he understood that. Lawrence said he did.

When leaving Upstate, Lawrence noticed Clark hanging his head in the police car and asked him what was wrong. Clark said he was hungry. Lawrence then notified Cortland County Jail to bring a meal to Clark upon his arrival.

Mayersak asked Lawrence how close she was to Clark while at Guthrie. About 4 feet, she replied.

Mayersak also asked whether Lawrence spoke with a doctor on scene. Yes, she said, but only briefly, saying Clark had just arrived at the hospital.

Summarizing their points, Mayersak said he was looking for evidence to suggest the doctor was acting in the interest of the police. He added he found none.

Monty said she was looking for evidence that Clark’s statements to police were made voluntarily, to which she said they appeared to be.

District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said a plea offer had been made to Mayersak and Clark for Clark to plead guilty to second-degree attempted murder and be sentenced to 25 years in prison followed by five years of post release supervision.

Clark said he would like a trial, but Campbell said that because the offer was just made public to the court that Mayersak review the offer with Clark.

No future appearances were scheduled.