North Royalton man accused of trying to gouge officer’s eyes, threatening to kill her

John Pugnea (Photo courtesy: North Royalton police)

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio– A man attacked a North Royalton officer and threatened to kill her, police say.

It started with the North Royalton police investigating a road rage incident on Aug. 18.

The police report said John Pugnea, 57, was driving dangerously on Ridge Road and threatened another driver, who called police. An officer tracked the license plate to Pugnea’s home and went to see if his car was in the driveway.

When the officer approached the suspect, he was uncooperative and appeared intoxicated, the police report said. The officer tried to put Pugnea into handcuffs and keep him from going inside his house, but he hit her, according to the report.

Pugnea called to his wife, who came outside and tried to protect the officer. She laid on top of the officer to protect her and begged her husband to stop, the report said.

“The only thing, ma’am, that is saving your life is my wife,” Pugnea told the officer.

Police said Pugnea punched the officer several times and attempted to gouge her eyes. Eventually, the officer was able to get to her pepper spray and used it on the suspect.

Other officers arrived soon after and took him into custody. The injured officer was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Pugnea is charged with attempted murder, felonious assault of police officer, resisting arrest and operating a vehicle under the influence. He’s also charged with aggravated menacing for the initial threat against the other driver.

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