Prosecutor Urges Conviction Of Ex-Deputy In SoCal Airman Shooting

Tuesday, June 26th 2007, 10:04 pm
By: News On 6

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) _ A sheriff's deputy was not justified when he shot and wounded an Iraq war veteran after a high-speed car chase, a prosecutor said Tuesday in closing arguments at the former lawman's trial.

Senior Airman Elio Carrion did not pose a threat to then-Deputy Ivory J. Webb, who shot the serviceman as he appeared to be obeying orders to get up off the ground by the crashed vehicle, said prosecutor Lewis Cope.

``When you look at the totality of the situation, it's not the kind of threat that justified shooting Mr. Carrion,'' Cope said.

Webb, 46, is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm. He faces more than 18 years in prison if convicted.

In the defense closing argument, attorney Michael Schwartz attacked the prosecution's case, saying a parade of witnesses gave conflicting accounts of what happened and downplayed Carrion's role as a suspect during and after the chase.

``How many bugs do you have to find in the prosecution's case before you throw it out?'' Schwartz said.

The shooting occurred Jan. 29, 2006, in Chino, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and was recorded on a grainy videotape shot in darkness by an area resident.

Carrion was a passenger in a Corvette that Webb chased at 100 mph and crashed into a wall. Prosecutors dissected the videotape frame-by-frame, outlining how Webb used what they called unreasonable force.

Cope discounted a contention by Webb's attorneys that Carrion reached into his jacket pocket, noting the tape showed the victim's hands were on the ground moments before he was shot.

His hand ``never makes it into his jacket,'' Cope said. ``Where is the reason to shoot this man?''

Schwartz said Carrion's hand was near his chest and may have given the appearance that he was reaching for a weapon. ``It doesn't matter if he has a weapon. It matters where he puts that hand,'' Schwartz said.

Schwartz argued that the deputy was worried about controlling the situation, given the circumstances before the shooting, including that Carrion allegedly wasn't complying with Webb's orders. ``It was an honest fear. It was a reasonable fear,'' Schwartz said.

Carrion was shot three times and spent at least a week in a hospital. Cope said Carrion, who is currently on light duty at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, had a titanium rod put in his leg after the incident.

Earlier in the trial, Carrion testified that he and the driver, Lewis Escobedo, had been drinking that night. The shooting happened after the two men left a barbecue in honor of the airman, who was home after serving a six-month tour in Iraq and was preparing to return to Barksdale.

While Carrion appeared to have difficulty following Webb's orders _ often trying to talk over the deputy _ it was Webb who did not make good rational decisions during the incident, Cope said.

During the four-week trial, attorneys for Webb, who did not testify, called to the stand three witnesses, including a tactics expert who said the shooting was justified and a forensics alcohol expert who testified about the victim's intoxication level.

The defense was scheduled to conclude final arguments Wednesday.