Officer tells jurors how he was shot

April 12, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

Using a cane and straining to hear because of nerve damage from his wounds, Officer James E. Beck told a Baltimore County jury yesterday how he was shot by a man he had stopped after a robbery on Pulaski Highway last Halloween.

Mark Phillip French, 29, of the 300 block of George Ave. in Essex is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of the officer, with the robbery of an Essex man and with use of a handgun. A 17-year-old who was charged with him pleaded guilty Friday to a robbery charge.

Officer Beck, a K-9 officer and a 19-year veteran, testified that he recalled only two of the three shots that nearly killed him and that resulted in months of hospitalization.

In the first day of testimony in the trial, Officer Beck told of approaching a pickup truck that he had pulled over about 3 a.m.

The man and woman "were sitting perfectly still," he said.

"I saw an arm reach out the driver's side and point a handgun and begin firing, one after the other as fast as he could fire. I saw the muzzle flash for the first one. I felt the pain in my left shoulder. I staggered back. Another pain hit me in the chest area. I was trying to dive between the two vehicles. To be honest, I don't recall the third shot."

Finding it hard to breathe, he used his lapel radio to call for help.

Officer Beck did not identify Mr. French as his assailant, and Assistant Public Defender John Henderson did not cross-examine the officer.

A police applicant riding with Officer Beck that night also called for help on the radio, and a corporal nearby heard the shots and rushed to the scene.

But the truck was gone.

In his opening statement, Assistant State's Attorney James O. Gentry Jr. said police were led to Mr. French by a friend who said the defendant told her he shot the officer because "it was either him or me."

A police raid of the friend's home produced a weapon that matched bullets taken from the officer, Mr. Gentry said. Also recovered was a smaller weapon, used by the female co-defendant in the robbery.

Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. granted a defense motion for a separate trial for Mr. French on charges in an Oct. 30 burglary and the theft of 11 weapons, including the one used against the officer.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Spencer Gordon urged jurors to watch for witnesses "with an ax to grind" and ones who might not have seen everything they describe.

Co-defendant Heather Lynn Kendall of the 700 block of Aldworth Ave. in Dundalk pleaded guilty to robbery with a deadly weapon and using a handgun.

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