State Digest

STATE DIGEST

April 27, 2007

Officer hit by cruiser during chase dies

A Montgomery County police officer who on Wednesday was hit by another officer's cruiser while chasing a drunken-driving suspect in Aspen Hill died yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police officials said.

Officer Luke Hoffman, 24, had been chasing a car when the driver stopped, jumped from his car and ran, police said. Hoffman chased the man on foot and was struck by a police cruiser in the 14700 block of Old Georgia Ave. about 1:30 a.m.

The cruiser was driven by Officer Stephen Wofsey, 26, said Officer Kyle Cochran, a Montgomery County police spokesman.

After hitting the officer, the cruiser swerved off the road, went down an embankment and struck a tree, Cochran said.

Both officers were flown to Shock Trauma. Wofsey was treated and released. Hoffman died overnight as a result of his injuries, police said.

Hoffman was hired by the department in January 2006 and was the top graduate in his academy class, police said. He was a graduate of McDaniel College and was trained as a firefighter and an emergency medical technician. Hoffman had been assigned to the 4th District, where he worked the midnight shift.

Anica Butler

Immigration court

Peruvian's hearing postponed

A Baltimore court hearing for a Peruvian immigrant accused by his home country of participating in a military-led massacre in the mid-1980s was postponed yesterday, and the rescheduled hearing will be closed to the public, federal immigration officials said.

It marks the second time that Elizabeth A. Kessler, a federal immigration judge, has ordered the normally open removal proceedings into secret session for Juan Manuel Rivera-Rondon, who lived in Montgomery County until his arrest late last month.

The judge has not responded to several interview requests.

Lawyer Mary Ann L. Berlin told Kessler this month that Rivera-Rondon had previously applied for asylum but withdrew that request. Still, Berlin argued that there were unnamed "security" concerns about his case receiving a public airing. She declined to comment about the case yesterday.

The detention was promoted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, whose officials announced Rivera-Rondon's arrest and called the extradition of suspected war criminals a top priority. But government attorneys later declined to request that the hearings be open to the public.

By law, immigration court proceedings are open to the public except when a judge cites one of several limited reasons for closing.

A spokeswoman at the federal Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review said yesterday that a half-hour hearing scheduled for Wednesday would also be barred to members of the public. It was unclear whether future proceedings would be open to public review.

Matthew Dolan

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