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Shooting by deputy is called justified

Ivory John Webb Jr. `showed great restraint' the night of the Chino incident, a witness says.

June 20, 2007|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

A former San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy's decision to open fire on a suspect after a high-speed chase in Chino was reasonable, a police tactics expert called by the ex-deputy's attorney testified Tuesday.

Inglewood Police Sgt. Kent Ferrin told jurors that former deputy Ivory John Webb Jr. was justified in shooting because the suspect ignored commands to keep his hands on the ground and appeared to reach into his Oakland Raiders jacket for a weapon.

"There were a couple of times where [Webb] would have been justified in firing," Ferrin said. "He showed great restraint."

Ferrin's testimony came shortly after prosecutors rested their case against Webb, who is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm for shooting Elio Carrion, an unarmed Air Force police officer who was home on leave.

Carrion, who survived after being shot three times in an encounter videotaped by a bystander, was a passenger in a Corvette that led deputies on a pursuit at more than 100 mph through Chino last year.

Ferrin was the second defense witness called in the trial, and he told jurors that he has served 18 years as an officer with the Inglewood and El Monte police departments and specializes in training officers about tactics in high-risk encounters.

Most of his testimony was based on the video of the shooting. It shows an intoxicated Carrion, sprawled on the ground next to the Corvette after it crashed, gesturing with one hand in the air as he tells the deputy he is in the military and has "served more time" than Webb in the police.

In that next moment, when Carrion reached his hand toward his chest and told Webb "You ... believe me all right!," Ferrin testified he would have assumed Carrion was making a threat and was reaching into his pullover jacket for a weapon.

In the video, Webb appears to tell Carrion get up off the ground, then fires three rounds as Carrion is pushing himself up.

While Carrion testified that he was trying to get up by using "a military-style push up," Ferrin said he saw the movement as "more of a lunge" toward Webb.

Most suspects held at gunpoint would get up slowly and carefully with both hands in the air so the officer would not think they are a threat, Ferrin said.

Carrion "doesn't sit straight up," Ferrin testified. "He goes down in a hunched position and toward the deputy. It's absolutely reasonable that [Webb] believes he is going to be attacked."

The Inglewood police sergeant also testified that the short haircuts of Carrion and the driver of the car, along with the Oakland Raiders pullover Carrion was wearing, would have made their appearance consistent with that of gang members in Southern California.

Deputy Dist. Atty. R. Lewis Cope did not get to cross-examine Ferrin on Tuesday.

Ferrin's testimony was meant to directly contradict the recent testimony of the prosecution's expert witness, Joe Callanan.

Callanan, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's lieutenant who said he spent much of his 22 years training officers about when to use force, testified that he saw no threatening movements by Carrion that could explain Webb's use of deadly force.

In his testimony, Callanan was sharply critical of Webb's tactics. Callanan said Webb, 46, brought more danger into the encounter by leaving a defensive position beside his car and standing at close range over two suspects with his gun drawn without waiting for backup.

Webb's use of profanity and the volume of his voice suggested he was not in control of the situation, Callanan said.

Ferrin did not fault Webb's tactics in what he described as a high-stress, rapidly evolving situation that could not be handled with textbook training at the police academy.

Earlier Tuesday, Webb's attorney, Michael Schwartz, made another attempt to chip away at 23-year-old Carrion's credibility by calling an expert on blood-alcohol levels.

Norm Fort, a forensic consultant, told jurors that Carrion would have to have drunk far more than he testified on the night of the encounter to reach a blood-alcohol level of 0.16% more than a hour after the Jan. 29, 2006, incident.

Carrion testified that he had as many as five beers and three shots of tequila during a family barbecue on the afternoon of the shooting, which was intended in part to celebrate the airman's safe return from a six-month tour in Iraq.

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