Local News

Durham man's trial turns on question: Who fired the gun?

Posted August 3, 2015 9:24 p.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2015 12:46 p.m. EDT

— Three years after a Durham police officer was shot in the leg during a traffic stop, the man accused of injuring him is sticking to the story that the officer's wound was self-inflicted.

The trial of Carlos Riley Jr. began Monday with his defense attorney asserting that during that during that traffic stop on Forest Road in December 2012 Investigator Kelly Stewart shot himself.

Riley faces charges of reckless driving, assault on a law enforcement officer causing serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm.

Lawyers on the two sides presented two very different versions of that traffic stop.

Riley's attorney, Alex Charns, said that his client feared for his life and was trying to protect himself from the officer.

"He took action to prevent himself from dying so he could make it to Christmas," Charns said of Riley.

Prosecutor Stormy Ellis said it was Riley who shot Stewart, and she called the investigator as her first witness.

Using a map to help illustrate, Stewart re-enacted the incident with a chair. He said a routine traffic stop spiraled out of control when Riley tried to drive off and Stewart tried to stop him.

"He's punching me. I'm punching him. We're going blow for blow," Stewart said.

Eventually, Stewart pulled his gun, and, he said, the two men struggled for control.

"What happened in that vehicle only two people know," Ellis said, reminding jurors that it is their job to determine which story to believe.