Testimony continues in shooting of Rose Hill officer
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 7, 2006 1:45 PM
The trial of a man accused of shooting a Rose Hill police officer in 2005 continued Wednesday with shooting victim Officer Mitchell Anderson still on the witness stand.
Anderson continued telling his version of the events of Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005, when he responded to a domestic dispute call between a black man and woman on the corner of Brice's Store Road and Pope Road in Duplin County.
On Tuesday, he testified that when he arrived on the scene the black man began to run and that he gave chase. When he finally caught up to the suspect Tyrone Williams, the two began to struggle. It was during that struggle that Anderson was shot in his left shoulder by his own pistol, a Heckler & Koch USP .45-caliber handgun. The gun was Anderson's personal weapon, but he had received permission and had qualified to use it while on duty.
During his testimony Tuesday, Anderson asserted that during their fight, Williams intentionally went for his gun.
"We fell into the bushes and started struggling," Anderson said. "He was trying to get away from me. Basically my intentions were to subdue him.
"I told him to stop. He said, 'Let me go. Let me go.'
"I said, 'I can't let you go.' He said, 'Fine. I'm going for your gun then.'"
At that point, Anderson testified, his gun was in its holster and that he was trying to protect it. However, it somehow ended up in Williams' hands and Anderson was shot at point blank range in the left shoulder.
On cross examination, though, defense attorney W.H. Paramore focused on why Anderson chose to pursue Williams alone and in the dark and how the gun got out of its three-level safety holster.
Paramore emphasized that while Anderson arrived in a marked Rose Hill police car, he was not using his blue lights and that while he was in uniform, it was a midnight blue -- almost black -- color. Anderson did not remember when, or if, he identified himself.
He testified that Williams started running as soon as he pulled into the intersection.
And that, Paramore said, was when Anderson made his first mistake.
"There were other options rather than going on a foot chase into a dark area," he said.
During his questioning Paramore asked if Anderson was aware that other officers were on duty that night and able to provide mutual aid. Anderson said yes.
Paramore also asked Anderson if, rather than pursue the suspect alone, on foot and without a flashlight, he could have waited for Officer Frank Moss to arrive from Magnolia, or at least used his radio to coordinate with him during the chase. Again, Anderson said yes. When he responded to the call, Moss was only minutes away.
Anderson also agreed that he could have just gotten the man's name from his girlfriend Tania Brown and apprehended him later.
But Anderson chose none of those options.
He testified that he made the decision to pursue Williams because he thought he had assaulted Ms. Brown and did not want to let him get away. Because Williams was running with a limp, he said, he thought he could catch him with little problem.
He told Paramore that he did not think his decision was an overreaction.
But, Anderson acknowledged, when he did catch up to Williams, he was not able to subdue him.
It was during the struggle that the gun was lost.
But the question, Paramore said, was how exactly the gun got out of its secure holster.
"This holster has a protective design. It's designed to protect you (Anderson). It's designed to maintain that weapon to not fall out or be pulled out by somebody else," Paramore said.
He explained that the holster has a snap cover that goes over the butt of the gun. Once that's undone, the gun must then be pushed down in the holster and twisted toward the body before it can be pulled out.
"Basically it's three steps to remove the gun," Paramore said.
His point was that in the heat of the moment, Anderson must have taken steps to either pull his gun or unsecure it for quick access.
However, Anderson testified that he did not pull or unsecure his gun and that it "is not really that difficult to pull out."
Under the direction of assistant Duplin County district attorney Jamie Askins, Anderson demonstrated the ease with which the snap could be undone. He also explained that with his and Williams' hands both on the gun, it could easily have been pulled from the holster.
He does not know how the gun got out of his holster and into Williams' hands.
After the lunch recess Wednesday, the prosecution continued its case, explaining how Williams was eventually apprehended on Sept. 14, 2005.
"The suspect was actually found under a bed in a trailer," Duplin County assistant district attorney Ernie Lee said.
The trailer was in a trailer park along N.C. 53 in Onslow County. Williams was found with Anderson's gun in his possession.
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