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No jail for Albemarle teen accused of trying to hit police officer during chase

The Albemarle County teen who sent at least one police officer diving for her life as he drunkenly sped through a convenience store parking lot last summer appears to be dodging both jail time and felony convictions — so long as he abides by certain rules.

While 19-year-old Kian Emanuel Goldstein did get a misdemeanor conviction and lost his driving privileges for 12 months, the officer he nearly hit was sufficiently unhappy about the felony-free resolution that she came to court March 18 to hear for herself what the court had decided.

"She objects?" asked presiding Judge Claude Worrell.

"She does," answered prosecutor Susan Baumgartner. "Officer Amanda Conner had to leap out of the way to avoid being hit."

Sitting near the front row of the gallery in Albemarle County Circuit Court, Conner was a silent presence for the duration of the hearing and said afterwards that she didn’t believe she was at liberty to comment.

Little was said in court about what misfortune Conner suffered, but Goldstein’s attorney said that nobody was injured in the Aug. 30 incident.

"There was braking and swerving," said defense lawyer Heather Carlton, adding that her client was "extremely apologetic" upon his arrest.

Carlton said that another mitigating factor is that her client has a "disruptive behavior disorder" diagnosis. That disorder, which is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, resulted in Goldstein’s temporary removal from regular classes when he was in high school, Carlton said.

When combined with alcohol, Carlton told the court, his disorder "literally causes seizure." Although below the legal drinking age of 21, Goldstein was found to be driving that evening with an open container of Twisted Tea, a brand of "hard" iced tea.

"His brain," the lawyer said, "is in a constant fight or flight mode."

That evening, according to arresting officers, Goldstein took flight.

Approached by police, he fled the Wawa parking lot at the corner of U.S. 29 and Proffit Road and, officers alleged, would momentarily turn off the vehicle’s lights to avoid his pursuers.

A couple of new details that the prosecutor added to the record March 18 were that Goldstein struck a deer and got trapped by making a turn onto a tree-lined drive. When he subsequently took off on foot, Baumgartner said, he left the vehicle in gear and running.

Police initially lodged eight charges including abduction for allegedly refusing, during the chase, to discharge a passenger. While a judge subsequently dropped the abduction charge, an Albemarle County grand jury certified six others, including felony eluding, assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and driving while intoxicated.

The plea agreement found that there was sufficient evidence for a pair of felony convictions, but the deal gives Goldstein a two-year deferral. During that time, he must refrain from further law-breaking, perform 100 hours of community service and abstain from illegal drugs and alcohol. If he complies, he gets to plead guilty in 2026 to three misdemeanors: assault and battery, eluding police and aggressive driving.

"He has to do a lot to earn a misdemeanor," said the prosecutor.

The one charge Goldstein was sentenced for on March 18 was driving while intoxicated, a conviction that brought him a $250 fine and requires him to wear a SCRAM-brand alcohol monitor on his ankle until four months elapse with no detection of alcohol.

While a charge of attempted malicious wounding of an officer and refusal to take an alcohol test were both dropped, his lawyer contended that the two-year deferral period is so stringent that any infraction, even vehicular, can undo the deal.

"Kian welcomes the opportunity to prove to the court and the community that his actions on the night of Aug. 30 were an aberration and that he is a responsible young man with a bright future," Carlton told The Daily Progress. "Kian made a mistake at 19 years old that will impact the rest of his life."

Reiterating something she said in court, she said that Goldstein has repeatedly apologized and has actively sought to accept responsibility.

"Instead, the commonwealth has treated Kian like a violent felon although he has no criminal record, no one was injured and the entire incident lasted a handful of minutes," she said.

The Albemarle County Police Department did not go into specific details when contacted by The Daily Progress.

"Decisions regarding prosecution and the best course of action fall under the purview of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office," county spokeswoman Logan Bogert told The Daily Progress in an email. "While we cannot comment on specific case outcomes, we respect this process and will continue to do our due diligence in our community."

Appearing in a navy blue sportcoat in court on March 18, Goldstein said nothing other than his soft-spoken affirmative answers when the judge asked him if he approved various aspects of the deal.

"I’ll see you in two years, Mr. Goldstein," said Worrell. "Good luck to you."

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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