EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 17, 2012

Getaway driver sentenced for hitting police officer

BRENTWOOD — Clint Pickering told the judge that when he pulled into the parking lot of a Windham gas station, he didn’t know his friend Patrick McKeen was planning to rob a bank.

So when McKeen returned minutes later and told him to quickly drive off, the Epsom man said he just did what he was told to do.

Pickering, an admitted drug addict suffering from mental illness, said he didn’t fully realize what was going on when he sped out of the Mobil station parking lot Sept. 18, 2009.

As Pickering spoke yesterday, Windham police Officer Jason Dzierlatka sat in the front row of the courtroom at Rockingham Superior Court.

At times, Dzierlatka looked down, using a finger to trace the outline of a long, jagged scar on his forearm.

Pickering was sentenced yesterday to serve 10 1/2 to 21 years in prison for striking Dzierlatka with his car as he and McKeen fled the robbery at the Bank of New England three years ago. Pickering already is serving 11 years in federal prison in Florida for his role as the getaway driver.

Pickering stood before Judge N. William Delker and said he was sorry for what happened, and wished he could trade places with Dzierlatka.

“I’m sorry for Officer Dzierlatka, who has a scar that reminds him of this every day,” Pickering said.

Dzierlatka returned to the Windham police force in May after missing more than two and half years of work. He also fractured his leg and ankle.

The officer held up his arm and showed the scar as he read a statement in court, saying how the accident forever changed his life.

He said his wife was nine months pregnant at the time of the accident and the was unable to help her when she needed him most.

“What Clint Pickering did that day was unacceptable at every level,” Dzierlatka said. “I will no longer enjoy the activities I once did. It also left me with emotional scars and significant monetary loss.”

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