Victim says police shots saved his life One man was killed, second hurt as officer fired four times

'Between me and Garcia'

Man who was beaten is hospitalized

witnesses are sought

September 05, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Dennis O'Brien contributed to this article.

The victim of Monday's beating in an Annapolis public housing complex said yesterday he might have died if a police officer had not shot his assailants, one of whom died.

Annapolis police said Cochise Ornandez Daughtry, 18, and Vernon Eugene Estep Jr., 19, both of Annapolis, were beating Carlester Jackson with a broken bottle when a police officer shot them, killing Daughtry.

"I think if that officer wasn't there, I wouldn't be here right now," Jackson said from his bed at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

His recollections are at odds with the suspicions of Robinwood community residents, who believe police used excessive force.

Officer David W. Garcia, the seven-year veteran who fired the shots, was placed on administrative leave while Annapolis police and the Anne Arundel County state's attorney investigate. Police are seeking witnesses.

Jackson, who declined to provide details yesterday, confirmed that he had been struck several times over the head and body with a bottle during the fight.

Police said Garcia and Officer Joseph M. Ridley responded to a )) complaint of gunshots being fired in the 1300 block of Tyler Ave. in Robinwood shortly after midnight.

Finding nothing amiss, Ridley left to handle another call while Garcia stayed behind.

Garcia saw two men chase a third man -- identified as Jackson, 40, of the 1400 block of Tyler Ave. -- and beat and slash him with a broken, quart-sized beer bottle, according to police.

Garcia ordered the men to stop, but when they refused, he fired four shots, striking Daughtry in the chest and wounding Estep, ++ police said.

The men did not attack the officer, said police officials, who said they believe the fight started over an unpaid drug debt.

Court records show no convictions for any of the three on drug charges.

Different versions of what happened surfaced in a skeptical community on the southwestern edge of the city.

Statement to police

A statement Jackson gave police detectives Monday said he was returning home from buying beer at Annapolis Wine and Spirits at Forest Drive and Tyler Avenue when he ran into the young men.

Jackson told Detective John Wade that he was walking down an alley when Estep ran up to him and "just hit me right upside the face with the bottle."

"He hit me a couple times and I went down," he said.

Jackson told Wade he could not recall many details, but heard the officer yell "Stop it, halt," and then the beating continued before the shots were fired.

Jackson told detectives he was robbed of $87 and that the officer's arrival may have saved his life.

"I think if that police hadn't showed up, I wouldn't be here today talkin' to ya," he said in the statement.

Officer's actions questioned

But community residents questioned Garcia's actions, asking angrily why he did not use pepper spray or fire a warning shot.

"The police's job is to be the protector, not to be a judge and jury and executioner," said Robert Eades, a community leader who organized a protest march Tuesday. "Even if these kids were involved in a fight, does that demand that they be gunned down?"

Police guidelines

Annapolis police guidelines allow officers to use their discretion in the level of force needed to handle a situation, said Sgt. Robert E. Beans, police spokesman and crime prevention coordinator. The guidelines are similar to those of the Maryland State Police and federal law enforcement agencies, he said.

"The officer has a right to use the necessary amount of force to protect a life and to protect his or her own life," Beans said.

"There is no such thing as warning shots and there is no such thing as just wounding someone," he said.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved a policy last year that allows federal agents to use deadly force only if someone poses an imminent danger to the agent or to another person.

Police departments across the country have similar deadly force policies, said Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation in Washington. Williams is a lawyer and former police officer.

Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who has final say on whether charges may be filed, declined comment yesterday on the shooting.

Waiting on investigation

Weathersbee, who met with police officials yesterday, said through a spokeswoman that the investigation was still in the hands of the Annapolis police and that he would have no comment while it continued.

Ruby Tyler, Daughtry's mother, insisted that Garcia should be punished for killing her son, who was described by relatives as "a good kid" who was looking for a full-time job.

"I'm not going to talk about my son," Tyler said. "This is just between me and Garcia."

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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