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Former deputy's account of Chino shooting is heard

His attorney reads Ivory John Webb Jr.'s take on the incident, in which he says he was frightened while he held two men at gunpoint after a chase.

June 19, 2007|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

Though he has yet to take the stand, former San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Ivory John Webb Jr. on Monday had his explanation of events read to the jury that will decide if he was justified in shooting an unarmed Air Force police officer after a high-speed chase in Chino.

Webb's attorney, Michael Schwartz, read comments that his client made to investigators after the shooting to aid in the cross-examination of a prosecution expert witness on the use of force by law enforcement officers.

Webb told detectives he was as scared as he had ever been and was anxious for his backup to arrive after the car he was chasing crashed on a dimly lighted street in Chino and he was holding the two occupants at gunpoint.

"My heart is going crazy -- where were my guys?" he said, according to the transcript Schwartz read to the jury of eight men and four women.

The deputy said he was dividing his attention between the driver, who was still in the car, and the passenger, Airman Elio Carrion, who was sprawled on the ground next to the crashed Corvette.

Webb told sheriff's detectives that he was startled when he heard Carrion say "I'm going to get up" and had difficulty tracking Carrion's hands, which he said disappeared and then reappeared just before the deputy opened fire -- striking Carrion three times and seriously injuring him.

"It looks like [the hand is] tucked here underneath the jacket, it looks like it's tucked," Webb told detectives, recounting those final seconds. "I say to myself, 'He's getting up.' I'm getting light-headed."

"I can't get the words out," Webb told detectives, according to the transcript. "I'm saying 'Get up,' I'm thinking 'Don't get.... ' "

"In my mind I'm shouting out, shouting it out, shouting it out," Webb said in the portion read by Schwartz. "But ... I've spent so much energy I can't -- I can't get it out.... He turns toward me and I'm thinking to myself, 'What is he doing?' And I see the hand, I'm dead, I'm, I'm dead," Webb recalled.

Schwartz read the statements Monday as he questioned the prosecution's expert witness, Joe Callanan, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's lieutenant who served for 22 years and specialized in training officers when to use force. Schwartz asked Callanan if he had considered Webb's account when he came to the conclusion that there was no reason for Webb to use deadly force on Carrion.

Callanan said that he had, and that Webb's statements did not change his opinion.

The judge has instructed jurors that they can use Webb's statements only to consider how the expert witness reached his opinions -- and should not try to use them independently to determine the facts of what occurred that night.

Webb's statements could take on a greater significance if Webb takes the stand when the defense lays out its case in the next few weeks.

Attorneys have not said publicly whether Webb, 46, will testify. Webb left the Sheriff's Department last year.

During redirect examination, San Bernardino County prosecutor R. Lewis Cope also read portions of Webb's statements so he could question Callanan about inconsistencies between Webb's account and a video of the shooting that was recorded by a bystander.

Callanan testified that he saw no evidence in the videotape, or other reports, that Carrion tucked his hand in his jacket or reached toward his waistband, as Webb told investigators.

Callanan also testified that he had not seen anything in the materials he reviewed backing up Webb's statement to authorities that Carrion told him during the traffic stop that he had "killed somebody in Iraq" and therefore could be "a killer."

Webb could face more than 18 years in prison if convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty. In his initial statement to other officers at the scene, he said he shot Carrion when the airman lunged at him.

Carrion, who survived three wounds in his shoulder, leg and chest, testified earlier that he never made threatening moves toward Webb and believed that he was following two clear orders from Webb to get up off the ground when the deputy shot him.

He testified that during the chase he repeatedly told the Corvette's driver to slow down and stop for police, but his friend, who was drunk, did not listen.

The airman is back at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on desk duty.

The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses later this week.

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