Montgomery County police officer Kyle Olinger yesterday described in a measured, dispassionate voice how a routine traffic stop in Silver Spring exploded into chaos and left a .32-caliber bullet lodged in his spine.
"I remember there was a black hole with a white light -- the muzzle flash -- and then I remember hitting the curb," Olinger testified in a courtroom so filled with onlookers that sheriff's deputies opened the doors and allowed spectators to watch from the lobby. "I heard sirens in the background, and I remember hearing someone yell, 'Get in the car!' "
Terence Green, 18, is on trial in Montgomery Circuit Court, charged with first-degree attempted murder in Olinger's August 2003 shooting. Green did not look up during much of Olinger's testimony, which the officer delivered from his wheelchair.
Olinger, 38, kept an even tone throughout 90 minutes of testimony. He spoke directly to the jury and occasionally gazed at Green, who wrote vigorously on legal pads.
In front of the defense table sat the passenger compartment of the 1993 Chrysler New Yorker that Olinger stopped that night. Police technicians cut the compartment out of the car out so it could be wheeled into court.
Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler at one point sat in the passenger seat while Olinger directed him as to Green's movements during the incident.
The bullet is still lodged in Olinger's neck; doctors decided not to remove it after the officer underwent more than nine hours of surgery and spent nearly two weeks in the hospital. Doctors have told Olinger he probably will never walk again, but he is working as a detective in the special investigations division.
Olinger testified that just after midnight Aug. 13, 2003, he stopped a car carrying three young men -- Green, Fadi Kadamani, 21, and Daniel Biddy, 18. Olinger asked Kadamani to step out of the car after Kadamani could not produce identification, and the officer walked with Kadamani around to the back of the car.
When Olinger looked up to the front of the car, he saw Green, sitting in the passenger seat, "moving around, reaching for something," Olinger said.
Suspicious, Olinger moved toward the front of the car, he testified, and saw that Green had reached down to pick up a chrome pearl-handled pistol from the floor of the New Yorker.
"I started yelling for everybody to get their hands up," Olinger said. "I backed away from the vehicle so I could see all three" people in the car, he said.
Olinger pulled his own gun. He then told Green to drop the gun, but Green did not, Olinger said.
Olinger pointed his weapon toward Green's head, he testified, and moved closer to the car.
"A million thoughts were going through my mind," Olinger said. "I didn't want to . . . shoot him. . . . Technically, I could have shot him, but I was thinking, 'This will look like an execution.' "
Then Green reached up with his left hand and pulled Olinger's arm into the car. With his right hand, Green pulled the trigger of the chrome handgun about a foot from Olinger's neck, the officer testified.
After seeing the muzzle flash, Olinger said, his mind went blank until he hit the curb.
"I heard a woman scream and then I heard a man's voice saying, 'Call 911.' "
That was cabdriver Daryoosh Saeedi, who pulled his cab over shortly after Olinger was shot. Saeedi, who testified last week, said in court that he called "officer down" into Olinger's police radio.
Police soon descended on the scene and before the night was over had arrested Kadamani and Green. Kadamani was charged with first-degree attempted murder but has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. His testimony last week largely supported Olinger's version of events.
Olinger's testimony yesterday concluded the prosecution's case. The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses today.
Green's attorneys, Stephen Mercer and Rene Sandler, have said they do not plan to vigorously challenge that Green was the triggerman. Instead, they have suggested that their case will center on whether Green fired the gun with the intent of killing Olinger.
In order to convict Green of first-degree attempted murder, the jury must agree that Green intended to kill Olinger when he pulled the trigger.
Green faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.