Officer defends decisions in shooting

The decisions made by a Greenwood police officer were the focus Wednesday for both prosecutors and the defense in the trial of a man accused of trying to shoot the officer.

Testimony continued in the trial of Paul J. Kinnaman in Johnson County Superior Court 3. He is charged with attempted murder, pointing a firearm, possession of a firearm by a violent felon and resisting law enforcement.

Kinnaman, 38, Metamora, is accused of leading police on a pursuit through Greenwood and into Indianapolis on the evening of June 27, 2016, before crashing his car at the intersection of Stop 11 Road and Shelby Street. As police arrived on the scene, Kinnaman is accused of fleeing on foot and pointing a gun at the officer, though the gun did not fire. The officer then shot Kinnaman in the waist and apprehended him. 

After providing an hour of testimony on Tuesday, Greenwood police officer Adam Bandy again took the stand. Bandy was the officer who pursued Kinnaman, and who shot him after Kinnaman pointed the gun at him.

Wednesday’s testimony focused on the video from the body camera Bandy was wearing on that day. Megan Smither, Johnson County deputy prosecutor, showed frame-by-frame video of Kinnaman pointing a gun at Bandy. Even though no shots were fired, Bandy testified that he believed Kinnaman was pulling the trigger due to the motion of the barrel.

When Smither asked why he felt it was imperative to use deadly force on Kinnaman, Bandy said he was protecting others in the area.

"He fired shots at me, and there were pedestrians around the YMCA," he said. "He was doing whatever he could to get away from me."

But as Kinnaman’s defense took up cross-examination, it was clear the focus was on not only the decision to fire his gun, but to go on a high-speed pursuit in the first place.

Attorney John Norris went through Bandy’s training with firearms, both in the military and as a police officer. He went through the route of the pursuit, along some of the busiest roads on the west side of Greenwood, and also went over Greenwood’s standards for pursuing a suspect.

Norris questioned why Bandy continued his pursuit of Kinnaman’s vehicle through rush-hour traffic, despite only having observed him breaking traffic laws up to that point.

"As of that moment, when you turned on your red and blue lights, you had a seat belt violation, speeding, weaving and turning into a passing lane. You agree with me that those are all traffic infractions?" Norris said, as Bandy agreed.

The body camera footage showed Bandy’s vehicle chasing after Kinnaman, and Norris went frame by frame questioning at what point it no longer was safe for Bandy to pursue the vehicle.

Norris also used the body camera footage to go frame-by-frame of Kinnaman pulling a gun. He questioned Bandy about whether he had Taser training, why he didn’t shoot Kinnaman with his Taser when he had it out, and whether he felt it was necessary to use his gun to shoot Kinnaman in the back.

Bandy replied that initially, Kinnaman wasn’t running. He was threatening to kill Bandy.

"At first, he was trying to ambush me. That’s why he was putting is other arm up, to put me at ease so he could murder me in cold blood," he said.

Other witnesses called by the prosecution supported Bandy’s account of the events. Chris Reed, another Greenwood police officer, described the scene he encountered as he arrived in support of Bandy.

Crime scene specialist Erica Christensen from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department recounted how she took evidence at the scene after the shooting. She had photographed and entered into evidence the gun Kinnaman is accused of using, noting that the safety was off and the hammer was cocked back.

Greenwood Police crime scene investigator Eric Lowe told the jury he had examined the car Kinnaman was driving, and how he found a magazine with seven bullets in it in the driver’s seat of the car.

Brian Falco, a member of the Greenwood Police Department and its gun specialist, talked about the gun found at the scene. The Bersa Thunder 380 is a lightweight gun with a unique safety feature.

"The Bersa has a lever inside of it, where you have to have a magazine inside it for the trigger to function," he said.

As Kinnaman’s gun was found without a magazine in it, that would explain why he was unable to fire any shots from it, he said.

The prosecution also called Brian Campbell, a probation officer from Franklin County. Kinnaman had been under probation in the county in 2016 for dealing methamphetamine, and at the time of the incident, has a suspended sentence of 33 years, 9 months and 16 days.

Kinnaman’s defense team was also able to start calling its own witnesses Wednesday. Amanda Traylor, a Greenwood resident who was in the car on June 27, 2016, was an acquaintance of Kinnaman’s. They were together that day to go get some drinks, and Kinnaman was going to give her a tattoo.

She testified that everyone in the car that day was wearing a seat belt, contradicting Bandy’s account. She also said that as he was driving, he was following all of the traffic laws.

But once the police car behind them — Bandy’s car — turned on its lights and the pursuit began, it was chaos.

"I was scared," she said.

Another witness, Troy Booker, was at the intersection of Stop 11 and Shelby Street when the incident unfolded. He said that while waiting in traffic, he saw Kinnaman running toward him and heard gunshots. Then he testified that a bullet hit his windshield.

He was lucky to be alive, Booker said.

The trial will continue today, when Kinnaman will take the stand.