Jan 7, 2013 Comments Off Pat Dollard
ABC News: Two veteran police officers broke down on the stand today during a preliminary hearing for accused movie theater gunman James Holmes.
CENTENNIAL, Colo.— An Aurora police officer testified Monday morning that James Holmes didn’t respond when he asked him behind the movie theater if accomplices helped him in the shooting rampage.
“He just looked at me and smiled,” said police officer Justin Grizzle, recalling the moments after the arrest.
A prosecutor then pressed Officer Grizzle to define the expression.
“It was like a smirk,” he said.
With Holmes in custody, Officer Grizzle, a former paramedic, told the court that he then rushed into Theater 9, the scene of massacre.
“There were several bodies lying motionless,” Officer Grizzle, who at times became emotional while on the stand. “I knew they needed to get to a hospital.”
Instead of waiting for ambulances, Officer Grizzle said he decided to start transporting the critically wounded himself.
“I didn’t want anybody else to die,” Officer Grizzle tearfully testified.
With the help of other officers, Officer Grizzle personally took six victims to nearby ERs on four separate trips.
Some of the wounded were so bloodied, Grizzle said he couldn’t recognize their race. On one trip, he had to yell at a man with a head wound to try and keep him alert.
“Don’t f—ing die on me, don’t f—ing die on me,” Grizzle recalled for the court.
Many surviving victims or their family members in the courtroom wiped away tears. One woman shielded her face with a scarf. Another young lady collapsed into the arms of man seated beside her.
When he was finally assuming the role of ambulance driver, Officer Grizzle described the horror scene inside his police cruiser.
“There was so much blood, I could hear it sloshing in the back of my car,” he said.
[Updated 12:30 p.m. EST/10:30 p.m CST]
The first police officer to encounter alleged gunman James Holmes after the shooting massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater initially thought he was a cop.
Aurora police officer Jason Oviatt said he thought the suspect was a member of law enforcement at the rear of the theater since he was wearing a military helmet and gas mask similar to what officers wear.
“When I first saw him, I thought he might be a police officer,” Oviatt said at a hearing for Holmes.
But Oviatt held him at gunpoint because he wasn’t acting like a police officer. Holmes was just standing at his white car with his hands on the roof, not doing anything.
“The overall picture didn’t match of him being a police officer as I got closer,” Oviatt said.
After the Aurora officer handcuffed Holmes, he noticed a handgun on the roof of the car where his hands had been, he said. And as he grabbed Holmes by the arm to take him away, a magazine of ammunition fell to the ground, Oviatt said in the hearing.
When Oviatt asked Holmes how many weapons he had, Holmes responded: four.
Then Holmes volunteered that he had an improvised explosive device at his home. When asked if it would explode, Oviatt said, “The suspect replied, ‘If you trip them.’ ”
Oviatt said Holmes was compliant and answered all his questions. He described him as relaxed. “In his case he was very, very relaxed,” Oviatt said. “He seemed very detached from it all.”
Oviatt and fellow Aurora officer Aaron Blue identified Holmes as the man they arrested at the car.
Blue helped with the initial arrest but then left to transport a victim who was shot in the head to the hospital.
Oviatt, upon cross examination by the defense, said he told officers at headquarters that Holmes was staring off in the distance and was not with it. “He was dripping with sweat and he smelled badly,” Oviatt said of Holmes.
About 40 members of the media and six front rows of survivors, victims’ families and friends listened intently to the morning proceedings.
[Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. MT]
The biggest hearing thus far in the People of the State of Colorado v. James Eagan Holmes gets underway here Monday morning.
Anyone officially connected to the case has been under a gag order since Holmes was arrested in the July 20 movie theater massacre. All police reports, search warrants and other key records were ordered sealed.
This week’s preliminary hearing will be the first public glimpse at the evidence prosecutors have against the man charged in the killing of 12 people and the wounding of 70 in the attack.
The hearing could last a week, as prosecutors outline particulars of their 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. The district attorney has not publicly stated if the death penalty will be sought.
Holmes’ attorneys may call witnesses to help lay the groundwork for a possible insanity defense.
At the end, District Judge William Sylvester will decide if there is ample evidence to move to trial.
Monday’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET/9 a.m. MT. Yahoo News will be at the hearing and will update this story during recesses throughout the day. No electronic devices or messaging is allowed from the courtroom.