A friend of a man on trial for allegedly trying to kill a Montgomery County police officer gave jurors an account of the shooting yesterday that contradicted several aspects of the officer's version of the incident, in which he was wounded in the neck and paralyzed.
Testifying in Circuit Court, Daniel Biddy, 18, said that, after a traffic stop in downtown Silver Spring, Officer Kyle Olinger pushed his gun against the head of the defendant, Terrence Green, and leaned into the car in which Green, now 19, was sitting. Biddy, who was sitting behind Green in the car, said he heard a gun go off during a chaotic struggle, after Olinger had leaned deep into the car.
Biddy's testimony appeared to support the defense's argument that Green did not intend to shoot Olinger early on the morning of Aug. 13, 2003. Green's attorneys, Stephen Mercer and Rene Sandler, have not contested that Green shot Olinger but have said he did not mean to do so.
Olinger, whose legs are paralyzed, still has a .32-caliber bullet lodged in his spine. He testified Tuesday that he pointed his gun at Green but did not push it against Green's head. Olinger said he remained outside the car until his arm was pulled into the vehicle by Green.
Biddy's testimony also contradicted statements he gave police shortly after the shooting. Biddy said in court yesterday that he lied to police to "save myself" and that police "made up" several details in signed statements.
He described Green as a close friend, "like a brother," and told Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler on cross-examination, "I want to help my friend out."
The defense argued in its opening statement that Green pulled the trigger in the confusion, without intending to shoot Olinger. To gain a conviction for first-degree attempted murder -- the most serious charge Green faces -- the state must prove that he made a conscious decision to shoot and kill Olinger.
Green, of Mount Rainier, also was charged with first-degree assault and using a firearm in a crime of violence. Biddy was not charged. Another man in the car, Fadi Kadamani, now 21, was charged with first-degree attempted murder but has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge, prosecutors have said in court.
Olinger testified from his wheelchair Tuesday that he stopped a 1993 Chrysler New Yorker just after midnight. He asked the driver, Kadamani, to step out of the car. Olinger said that as he walked toward the passenger side, where Green was sitting, he saw Green reach down to the floorboards for a chrome-plated pistol.
At that point, Olinger said, he drew his weapon and shouted at the three young men to put their hands up. But he said Green kept his hands out of view.
Olinger testified that he kept his weapon a few inches away from Green's head. He said he remained outside the car until Green pulled his arm inside the car and fired a round from the pistol into his neck.
Biddy yesterday contradicted Olinger's account that Green did not put his hands in view of the officer. He said Green put both hands at about the level of his chest and held them outside the car.
Then, Biddy said, Olinger pushed his gun into Green's head and pushed Green's head down toward the seat.
Hours after the shooting, Biddy told police two different stories, according to written statements Gansler read in court yesterday. In one, he said he did not see the shooting because he was looking out the back window, where Kadamani was standing. In another statement made the same night, Biddy said he saw Green shoot Olinger.
"I was lying to try to save myself," Biddy testified yesterday.