A rookie Montgomery County police officer testified yesterday that he saw his uniformed field training officer in February crouched in a stairwell, firing his .38-caliber service revolver at a man.
"I heard loud bangs in rapid succession," said Officer Brian Holloway, 21, then two months out of the police academy. "I looked up and saw the muzzle flash from the revolver."
Holloway testified at the trial of Officer Darryl Austin, 29, who is accused of attempted murder and a handgun violation. Holloway said he thought initially that Austin had been hurt. Minutes later, Holloway said, Austin asked him, "Are you going to help me?"
Then Holloway said Austin, a member of the police department for four years, opened the trunk of his cruiser and told the rookie, "We have to get rid of the body."
Austin, who has been suspended from the police force, is on trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court on a charge of trying to kill Willie Lee Jackson, 22, of Northeast Washington, after a confrontation between the two men over a woman.
If convicted of the attempted murder charge, Austin could face a prison term of 30 years to life.
Police said Austin, accompanied by Holloway, left his assigned patrol area in downtown Silver Spring on Feb. 27 to visit the Wheaton apartment of his girlfriend, Khavah Carter, 18. While at Carter's apartment, Austin allegedly called Jackson on his electronic paging device, police said.
Jackson testified Tuesday that Austin shot him in the head, face and neck four times in the stairwell of an apartment building on Layhill Road.
A prosecutor said Austin "coolly and calmly" shot Jackson because of jealousy. But Austin's defense attorneys said Austin, who was "obsessed" with Carter, acted impulsively after Jackson tried to humiliate him.
Yesterday, Holloway said Austin told him he wanted to take care of some "personal business" when they left Silver Spring for Wheaton.
Holloway testified that after they arrived at the Winexburg Manor apartment complex, he waited in the police cruiser for Austin. Holloway said the conversation between Austin and Jackson, which he could see through a glass door, became argumentative, and Austin returned to the squad car after about 30 minutes.
As Austin drove to the end of the parking lot, Holloway testified he stopped the cruiser and said, "We have to go back. I forget to do something." Minutes later, Holloway said he heard gunfire. "I was in a highly emotional state," Holloway said after the shooting.
Holloway testified that, at Austin's request, he gave Austin four new bullets so the officer could reload his service revolver. Holloway said Austin picked up the used shells and placed them in his pocket.
Then Holloway said Austin began badgering him about devising an alibi. "What are you going to tell the Office of Internal Affairs?" Holloway said Austin asked him. The police department's Office of Internal Affairs investigates misconduct allegations against police officers.
As part of a cover-up, Holloway testified, Austin called in a phony traffic stop. At a 7-Eleven store later, Austin washed his service revolver and bullets to remove incriminating evidence, Holloway testified. Austin was arrested when the two officers returned to the Silver Spring police station.
Holloway, now assigned to the Germantown Police District, said he never contemplated arresting Austin on his own. "It would have created a bigger mess."