CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A North Royalton man with a history of assaulting law enforcement is now facing an attempted murder charge after police say he punched an officer in the face multiple times and tried to gouge her eyes.
John Pugnea, 57, is currently in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $500,000 bond.
On Aug. 18, North Royalton Patrol Officer Alexandra Bell responded to Pugnea’s home on Lynn Drive to investigate a report of road rage.
A North Royalton resident had previously called police to report a bald male in his 50s was driving erratically and appeared to be “on something.”
When the caller confronted the male about his driving, he said the man threatened to kill him. He was able to provide police with a license plate number, which was registered to Pugnea’s wife.
Officer Bell began questioning Pugnea in his driveway as he returned home and said that he smelled like alcohol and was acting impaired. According to the officer, Pugnea appeared to become agitated when she asked him if he had been drinking and was not being cooperative.
Bell said Pugnea, who outweighs the officer by nearly 100 pounds, began fighting with her when she attempted to arrest him.
“He then punched me in the face with a closed fist and did so multiple times,” Bell wrote in her report.
She said she fell to the ground and Pugnea got on top of her and continued to punch her in the face repeatedly.
“I’m going to f------ kill you,” she said Pugnea stated while he was hitting her.
Bell said Pugnea’s wife ran out of the house and attempted to stop the attack.
She said Pugnea then stated, "The only thing, ma’am, that is saving your life is my wife.”
As Bell continued to struggle with the suspect, she said he had both hands gripping her face.
“He moved his fingers over my eyes and began to push them into my eye sockets,” Bell wrote. “He then moved his thumbs into my eyes and pushed harder. It felt as though my eyes were going to pop and I screamed for help. I believed that he was going to kill me and I was afraid for my life.”
Bell was eventually able to pull away from the suspect just as other officers were arriving on scene. She said Pugnea had pushed into her eyes so hard that her vision temporarily went black and one of her contact lenses was pushed up underneath her eyelid.
She was transported to Southwest General Hospital for treatment.
Police took Pugnea into custody and transported to the North Royalton City Jail. They said he was increasingly belligerent and aggressive at the jail, yelling at and threatening officers, so they put him in a restraint chair and placed a spit mask over his face.
Pugnea is charged with attempted murder, felonious assault, resisting arrest, aggravated menacing, OVI, and operating an unsafe vehicle. The case has been bound over to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and will be presented to a grand jury.
Records show Pugnea has a history of violent behavior.
In 1982, he was charged with assaulting two North Royalton police officers and sentenced to four days in jail.
Pugnea was also charged with domestic violence in 2001 but was convicted of an amended charge of persistent disorderly conduct.