Joppa man guilty of assaulting off-duty city police officer

May incident left officer blind in one eye

August 31, 2010|By Kristen Dize, The Aegis

A Harford County jury found James Aaron Kimble of Joppa guilty Tuesday of assaulting an off-duty Baltimore City police officer in May, leaving him without the use of one eye.

But the panel also decided that the attack was not racially motivated, finding Kimble not guilty of first-degree assault based on race or color.

Detective Jermaine Cook was struck in the face after Kimble approached Cook's vehicle at a stop sign and yelled at him about his driving. Kimble hit Cook in the face with a drinking glass.

Cook called 911 after the 2:20 a.m. attack on May 6, as he drove home from work.

Assistant State's Attorney David Ryden argued Kimble, 20, of the first block of Haverhill Road in Joppa hit Cook not in self-defense, but with the intent to hurt.

Ryden said Kimble, in a recorded interview with a Harford County Sheriff's detective, admitted stepping in front of Cook's car, initiating the assault.

In that same recorded interview, Ryden said, Kimble talked about seeing Cook before in the same SUV, shooting his gun sideways out of the vehicle.

The prosecutor said Kimble's description illustrated negative stereotypes about African-American culture and Kimble's use of racial slurs during the incident underlined his evident hate.

"He knew that Mr. Cook was black," Ryden said. "Mr. Kimble was going to cause some damage that night."

David Henninger, Kimble's lawyer, said Cook rolled through a stop sign and Kimble was upset because a friend of his had been killed when someone ran a stop sign the previous month.

In telling Cook to slow down, Kimble was only doing what he thought was right, Henninger said.

"He's being the protector of the neighborhood," Henninger said.

Kimble hit Cook with the only thing he had because he felt he was over-matched and Cook invaded his personal space, Henninger said.

The jury returned its verdict Tuesday evening after six hours of deliberation.

Judge Stephen Waldron said sentencing would be scheduled within six to eight weeks pending a pre-sentence investigation.

Waldron ordered Kimble to remain held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this article.

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