Man's conviction for beating an off-duty sheriff's deputy could send him back to federal prison

A federal magistrate judge has ordered Brima Wurie, 44, held without bail as prosecutors make the case that he violated his parole on a federal sentence for crack distribution last year when he jumped into a fight between his brother and an off-duty Suffolk County sheriff's deputy at a Bowdoin Street liquor store, grabbed the cop's gun, smashed him two times in the head with the firearm, then ran out with it.

Wurie, who has already been judged a federal career criminal, was brought into federal court pretty much straight from state prison after he completed his nine-month state sentence earlier this month for the attack around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 at Brother's Wine and Spirits, 213 Bowdoin St..

In a ruling released Monday, US District Court Magistrate Judge Judith Gail Dein agreed with federal prosecutors that Wurie would pose a menace to society should he be released on bail.

In addition to his conviction for beating the deputy sheriff, he had also been involved in two other possible violent episodes last year - one in which his own daughter initially told police he had choked and punched her - before refusing to cooperate further - and another in which he allegedly threatened to shoot up a Dorchester restaurant and yelled he was a member of the Creston Street gang when he was ordered out for grabbing a waitress by the thigh.

In her ruling, Dein described the attack at Brother's Liquors

"The defendant’s arrest and conviction arose out of an incident at a liquor store, which was clearly captured on store video. The defendant was there with his brother, and appeared to be intoxicated. His brother was engaged in a verbal altercation with an off-duty police officer. The defendant, who was not standing next to his brother, jumped into the situation and started physically assaulting the victim, who eventually fell. The victim was able to draw his gun and eject the magazine so it was not loaded. The defendant grabbed the gun. While he claims he was concerned about being shot, the video shows that the defendant was pulled away from the altercation, then broke away from those restraining him and attacked the victim again, this time striking him in the head with the butt of the gun. Since the defendant was holding the firearm at this point, the defendant was clearly not concerned about being shot. The defendant was eventually pulled away from the melee and he left the store with the gun. The gun has not been recovered."

She then mentioned the other incidents from last year and added:

"He was convicted of five violent offenses during the period from late 1996 to 2000. One case involved stabbing another person in the head, one involved an incident where he was driving a car fleeing from police when he struck an officer. Police shot at the car, and a passenger in the car was killed. The defendant was sentenced to 3 years for that offense. His record contains a number of firearm related offenses."

In the incident in which his passenger died, another one of Wurie's passengers shot at some rival gang members, which led to a chase through Dorchester. Boston Magazine reported:

"During the chase, Wurie ran down and injured a BPD officer; thinking that the struck officer was being dragged, others opened fire. A 25-year-old woman in the back seat was killed by a police bullet."

In June, 2011, a judge in Boston federal court sentenced Wurie to nearly 22 years in prison - less the time he had already spent locked up awaiting trial - following his conviction on charges of crack distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of crack with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition for the Lil Peach drug sale in 2007.

However, in an appeal that went to the US Supreme Court, the convictions for possession of crack and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition were thrown out because they were based on what the Supreme Court ultimately decided was an illegal search: As Wurie was being booked after his arrest for selling crack in the parking lot of a South Boston Lil Peach, officers noticed his phone ringing. They opened the phone, saw the call and earlier ones were from "My house," looked up the address associated with the phone number and went over to what turned out to be Wurie's apartment, where they found additional crack and guns and ammo.

The court ruled this an illegal warrantless search because there was no emergency or immediate threat to officers, so they should have waited until they got a warrant, which means their looking at the phone was illegal and so was all the evidence they collected from it - the drugs, gun and ammunition at the apartment.

After the Supreme Court dismissed those charges, a judge in federal court in Boston reduced Wurie's sentence on the one remaining, valid conviction to 14 years, followed by 4 years of probation. Wurie was released from federal custody on Sept. 13, 2019.

Dein concluded her ruling:

"The court does recognize that the defendant has strong support of his family and friends. However, the defendant does not seem to be able to control a violent temper. This, coupled with the fact that the firearm has still not been located leads this court to conclude that there are no conditions that would reasonably assure the safety of the community if the defendant was released. The defendant has not met his burden of proving otherwise."

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