Pat Craig race

With several of his fellow cops standing behind him – literally and figuratively – Cpl. Patrick Craig rises for the national anthem before a May 23 5K to raise money for him and his family. Craig was seriously injured while scuffling with a suspect in March.

A former University of Delaware student who seriously injured a Newark police officer in March pleaded guilty earlier this month.

Alexander Mastronardi, 19, of Bernardsville, N.J., admitted to second-degree assault and resisting arrest. As part of the deal, the more serious charge of first-degree assault on a police officer was dropped.

According to state law, Mastronardi could face up to nine years in prison when sentenced early next year. At the time of his arrest, he was a UD sophomore, but he is no longer enrolled at the university, a UD spokeswoman confirmed.

Mastronardi was first arrested around 1:45 a.m. March 23. Officers were on patrol on North College Avenue when they saw a disturbance in the street, police said. A ride-share driver told police she was waiting in traffic when Mastronardi, who had not requested a ride through the ride-share service, began pulling on her door trying to get in.

Mastronardi, who was intoxicated, attempted to punch the officer, and was taken into custody, police said. He continued to struggle with officers once they got him into the cell block processing area in the basement of the police station.

Mastronardi used his leg to trip Cpl. Patrick Craig, who struck his head on a metal counter and then fell to the concrete floor.

Craig, 51, finished his shift, not realizing the extent of his injuries. However, while at home several days later, he began suffering medical problems. Doctors told him he had suffered a stroke caused by damage his brain sustained in the fall.

He was admitted to the hospital with what police later described as life-threatening injuries and spent weeks in a rehabilitation center.

Craig struggled with cognition issues and has had to relearn many tasks. He’s trying to get used to what his wife, Patti, calls their “new normal.”

“That’s the hardest thing,” he said in May during a fundraiser organized by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 to support Craig and his family. “In my mind, I’m still the traffic cop. I’m still that same guy in my brain. But my body is not.”

Craig is continuing to rehab but has not yet been able to return to NPD, where he is a certified motorcycle operator and has done stints as a firearms instructor, a SWAT team member and a collision reconstructionist.

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