Germantown man acquitted of trying to disarm Montgomery police officer who shot him
Thursday, June 24, 2010
A Germantown man who was shot five times by a Montgomery County police officer was convicted Wednesday of assaulting the officer but was found not guilty of a more serious charge of trying to take his gun.
Ingham "Andre" DeFreitas, 32, who wears a sling to support his right arm, which was injured in the shooting, will be sentenced for the assault charge, a misdemeanor, in September. "He's still scared he's going to jail," said his attorney, Rebecca Nitkin.
The two-day trial centered on an encounter nine months ago outside a home in the Darnestown area west of Gaithersburg, where DeFreitas had gotten his car stuck in mud.
Officer Kurt Colson testified about why he fired five times. Jurors also heard from four neighborhood residents about what they saw from their homes.
Jurors said they thought there wasn't enough consistent testimony about whether DeFreitas was trying to grab the officer's gun or push it away.
"That's what made us unsure," said juror Hoa Huynh.
On Sept. 28, DeFreitas drove a dark green Cadillac Catera through the Indian Run Drive cul-de-sac, continuing up the long driveway of a large home.
He stopped and tried to turn around, but the car got stuck in mud. The more he hit the gas, the more the rear tires sank. Homeowner Patrick Winger walked out and asked what he was doing.
Winger testified that DeFreitas said he was being chased. Winger said he didn't want to meet whoever was chasing DeFreitas.
Winger said he went inside, told his family to stay in the house, locked the doors and called police.
Colson was the first to arrive, about 10 minutes later. The 6-foot-3 officer weighed 150 pounds. DeFreitas, also 6-3, weighed 190.
Colson, who had been on the job less than two years, testified that he pulled his cruiser to within 1 1/2 car lengths of the Cadillac, got out and approached it. The windows were up, but he could see the driver rummaging around.