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Witness describes struggle following Durham officer's shooting

Posted August 5, 2015

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— A woman who saw a Durham police officer and another man fighting for control of a gun almost three years ago said she feared for her life but still tried to commit as many details as possible to memory.

Officer Kelly Stewart was shot in the thigh during a confrontation with Carlos Riley Jr. following a December 2012 traffic stop. The defense claims Stewart shot himself during a struggle, but Stewart testified Tuesday that his finger was never on the trigger after he drew his handgun.

Brooke Hipes, the manager of the apartment complex where the shooting occurred, testified Wednesday that she heard a popping noise and saw a man standing outside a red car struggling with someone in the driver's seat when she looked out her office window.

"There was a pull-pull kind of tug going on," Hipes said. "I don't know if he was pulling him out or being pulled in the car, but there was a push-pull happening."

Hipes said she watched as the man in the car was pulled out and left bleeding on the ground, and the other man drove off. Meanwhile, she was calculating how to get out without being seen.

"I was looking around my office to think, what do I need to do. Do I need to hide? Do I need to lock additional doors or run out the back?" she said. "While it was happening, I was trying to self-preserve but also make as many notes as possible, remembering details, what he was wearing, so that I could accurately relay that to the police what happened."

Defense attorney Alex Charns pointed out in cross-examination that Hipes didn't see the shooting itself, so she doesn't know how it happened.

"At no point was that gun pointed directly at the gentleman on the ground, correct?" Charns asked.

"Not that I saw," Hipes replied.

"The gun was pointed to the sky, correct?" Charns asked later.

"When I saw it, it was," Hipes said.

Later Wednesday, Durham police Investigator Corey Cook testified about stopping a car with Riley and two other men shortly after the shooting. He said all three appeared to be in shock, and he noticed blood on Riley's arm.

"I asked, 'What happened to your arm?' and he said, 'It happened when I was struggling with that officer,'" Cook said.

At the time, he said he was unaware that Stewart had been shot, so he asked Riley more specifically about the officer he mentioned.

"The officer that y'all are looking for me for," Riley said, according to Cook.

Testimony is expected to continue Thursday.


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