Officer shot in head testifies at trial, 'I have amnesia of the actual event'

June 19, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

The prosecutor asked Officer James E. Young Jr. to name his last memory of Sept. 18, 1992. That was the day Jimmy Young took a bullet in his head in an East Baltimore public housing high-rise.

"Getting out of the car and going to the Flag House project," said the 26-year-old officer. His speech was deliberate and slightly slurred. His eyes fixed on nothing in particular -- certainly not on his accused assailant, sitting 8 feet away.

"I have amnesia of the actual event."

As a witness, Officer Young may have contributed next to nothing toward unraveling the chain of events that left him partially paralyzed and nearly blind. Still, he had the attention of everyone in the courtroom, especially the 20 uniformed city police officers from various police districts who showed up to show their support.

The officers were already there when Officer Young, wearing a white, short-sleeve dress shirt and tie, arrived. He rose from his wheelchair and moved unsteadily.

Fellow police Officer Milton L. Corbett held both of Officer Young's hands and led him toward the witness stand.

Sean L. Little, 22, accused of assault to elude arrest in connection with the struggle, was led handcuffed and shackled into the courtroom.

He stole a quick glance at the officer and then looked away.

The jury filed in, and Officer Young began his testimony, which lasted two minutes. He pointed to the spot where he was shot -- in the back of his head, toward the top.

As he was leaving the stand, Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe asked him to describe his vision loss.

This clearly irritated defense attorney Jack B. Rubin. He had complained that the officer's testimony was designed to do no more than "stir the juices of the jury," and he didn't want the judge opening the door for more pathos.

Officer Young told the judge, "I only have peripheral vision. I can't see out the front at all. I see out the side, but it is still very blurry."

After testifying, Officer Young left the courthouse. He is home from the hospital now, going to therapy five days a week, Officer Corbett said.

"He's doing fine," said Officer Young's mother, Garnetta Raynor.

Officer Corbett added: "There's always room for improvement. We'dlike to see Officer Jimmy Young return to the Southeast District."

Detective Richard Garvey followed Officer Young to the stand to describe the circumstances leading to Mr. Little's statement to police. A tape of the statement was then played to the jury.

On the tape, Mr. Little says he was selling drugs that day in a his usual spot in a stairwell in the high-rise when Officer Young approached in plainclothes.

"He had [his gun] pointed toward my head with his finger on the trigger," Mr. Little said. "He just scared me with that gun because he told me he was going to kill me with the gun."

On the tape, Mr. Little told detectives he broke free after the officer hit him in the head with his gun, but Officer Young caught him after a brief chase down the hallway on the third tier of the high-rise.

"When he tussled me to the ground, I worked my way up to run, to get away, and I heard a shot go off," Mr. Little said.

"As soon as I got from out of his arms somehow that gun went off. I don't remember swinging or nothing, or trying to grab the gun or nothing like that."

The trial is to continue Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

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