Defendant thought police in drug raid were robbers

September 01, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Seated just a few feet from the policeman he nearly killed, a self-described former drug dealer insisted yesterday he shot at three police officers during a February drug raid because he thought they were thieves trying to rob him.

Darryl Lamonte Jones told a Circuit Court jury that he fired the first of his five shots Feb. 19 before realizing the five men in black commando-style uniforms who had burst into a friend's apartment might be police officers.

But by then it was too late, he said.

"I realized they might have been police, but seeing as how they were firing at me, I fired back," Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Jones is on trial before Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth on charges of attempted murder. He shot at the three Annapolis police officers during a 1 a.m. drug raid at an apartment on West Washington Street Feb. 19.

According to testimony, Mr. Jones shot at Sgt. Paul Gibbs after the officer broke through a locked bedroom door and found the defendant and his .22-caliber pistol.

CSergeant Gibbs was hit in the collar of his bulletproof vest, about an inch from the neck. The shot dropped the officer onto his back in the doorway, where he and Mr. Jones exchanged gunfire, according to testimony.

Cpl. James Doran, who was confronting a suspect in a nearby bathroom when the shooting started, turned to help Sergeant Gibbs and was shot in the abdomen and leg.

Officer Terry Shea, who also heard the shooting and was armed with a bulletproof shield, ran behind the shield toward Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones retreated into a bedroom closet and surrendered.

In testimony yesterday, Mr. Jones told the court he was shot in the hand and back.

Mr. Jones testified that he had been robbed twice in the weeks preceding the drug raid. The second robbery, at the same West Washington Street apartment where the drug raid took place, prompted him to purchase a .22-caliber pistol for protection, he said.

He said he no longer sold drugs, but that drug dealers anwould-be thieves didn't seem to know that.

"In the past, I had sold drugs [and] the reputation you have stays with you," he said.

But he had a difficult time explaining how he paid half the $425 in monthly rent on the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, and how he earned the cash he carried.

Mr. Jones testified that he had between $3,000 and $3,500 on him at the time of the shooting and had another $1,000 stolen from him in a robbery at the apartment the day before the raid.

Sergeant Gibbs, who sat and listened to the testimony from a front row in the courtroom, later declined to comment publicly.

Police have testified throughout the three-day trial that the five officers who participated in the raid continually identified themselves while rushing through the apartment, shouting "police" and "search warrant."

"Proper police procedure was followed to a T in this case," Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone told jurors.

But Assistant Public Defender Keith Gross has been trying to show jurors that Mr. Jones had reason to fear for his life when he fired at the officers. He has focused on the black commando-style garb they were wearing.

At one point yesterday, Mr. Gross had Corporal Doran stand up and don the black military-style helmet, black stocking cap and black goggles he wore the night of the raid. The outfit made him look like Darth Vader.

"This case is about fear," Mr. Gross told jurors in openinstatments.

0 The case is expected to go to the jury today.

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