Contradiction caught on tape

SAN BERNARDINO - The former sheriff's deputy on trial for shooting an unarmed man at the end of a car chase in Chino reported to two other officers immediately after the incident that he shot because the man attacked or lunged at him, according to testimony in the deputy's trial Thursday.

The first backup officer to arrive that night, Chino police Detective Brian Cauble, testified Thursday he came upon the scene to find the deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., standing above a wounded Elio Carrion with his gun drawn.

Cauble said he immediately asked Webb what was going on.

"He told me the subject had tried to attack him," Cauble said.

Richard Swigart, a San Bernardino County sheriff's sergeant who also went to the scene, testified Webb told him a similar story.

"He said the guy lunged at him and he shot three times," Swigart testified.

Webb's statements from that night were the central issue Thursday as his trial continued in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Prosecutors contend the statements are contradicted by a videotape of the shooting that appears to show Webb shoot Carrion just after ordering him to get up.

They also claim that after the video of the shooting surfaced, Webb changed his story to say he shot Carrion because he believed Carrion reached into his jacket for a weapon.

Webb's lawyers contend the shooting was justified. They say Webb has been honest about what happened from the beginning, and his statements at the scene were cursory and made in the heat of a stressful situation.

Webb is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the Jan. 29, 2006, incident. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted as charged.

Carrion was the passenger in a car that led Webb on a high-speed chase. After the driver, Luis Escobedo, crashed on Francis Street in Chino, Carrion crawled out onto the ground and Webb held him a gunpoint.

A local resident videotaped the following encounter from his front yard.

The recording appears to show Carrion and Webb shouting back and forth at each other. Carrion is on the ground as he tells Webb he means him no harm. Moments later, Webb appears to order Carrion to "get up." As Carrion rises, Webb shoots him.

Swigart testified Thursday that he was a supervising sergeant at the Chino Hills sheriff's station on the night of the shooting. Swigart said he responded to Francis Street after hearing radio traffic from deputies about a car chase and shots being fired.

When he got there, Carrion was on the ground wounded, he said.

Swigart approached Webb and asked for a brief statement about what happened, he said.

Webb told him that Carrion had repeatedly defied his orders to stay on the ground, he said. Webb said he had kicked Carrion down and warned him that he would be shot if he tried to get up again.

Webb claimed Carrion disregarded that order, Swigart testified.

"He said the guy tried to get up quickly in a lunging motion, so he shot him," Swigart testified.

Swigart said Webb appeared coherent but was also noticeably upset over having shot someone.

Cauble testified Thursday that he was on patrol when he heard a radio call about an officer needing assistance. When he got to Francis Street, Webb was still holding Carrion and Escobedo at gunpoint. Carrion had already been shot.

As Cauble approached Webb, the deputy immediately said Carrion tried to attack him, Cauble said.

After hearing the statement, Cauble said he activated an audio recorder on his belt.

Prosecutors played the recording for jurors Thursday morning.

On it, Webb makes an additional statement about being attacked.

"Mother (expletive) gonna get up trying and (expletive) attack me!" he says in an angry tone.

Cauble testified Webb made the above statement while walking toward Escobedo, who was still in the driver's seat of the car.

Escobedo is then heard on the tape challenging Webb's statement.

"He told him to get up!" Escobedo shouts.

The retort appeared to agitate Webb, who then repeatedly shouted at Escobedo to shut up.

Cauble then asks Webb to "settle down, man."

San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Leland Boldt, who supervised the investigation, testified Thursday afternoon that he and his team first saw the video of the shooting about three hours after it occurred.

He said the man who made the video, Jose Luis Valdes, invited about five detectives into his home and played the tape on a large, flat-screen television mounted on his wall.

"When he stopped the video the room was dead silenced for a few moments," Boldt testified.

Boldt said his detectives then took the video to the Chino Hills station, where it was played repeatedly for supervisors.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume Monday. Prosecutors plan to rest their case by Tuesday, and Webb's lawyers will begin calling their witnesses by the middle of next week.

Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at r_leveque@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-9325.

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