MD State Trooper recounts Walker’s initial narrative of shooting while still at the scene; police sketch notes distances involved
Today we have two additional pieces of evidence from the Maryland “road rage” murder trial of off-duty NJ police officer Joseph Walker in the shooting death of Joseph Harvey, Jr.
The first is a supplement report produced by the Maryland State Police in which State Trooper Robert Henry recounts what Walker told him at the scene of the events leading up to the shooting. A copy of this report is embedded at the bottom of this post.
The second piece of evidence is a police sketch of the positions of the two vehicles at the side of the road, as well as blood splatter and bullet casings, with various distance measurements indicated. This, too, is embedded at the bottom of this post.
MD State Police Supplement Report
The supplement report captures the interview of State Trooper Robert Henry, who spoke with Walker at the scene of the shooting, by Maryland State Police Lead Investigator Myles Roy. Henry’s recounting of his actions arriving at the scene and his discussion with Walker are captured in bullet-point fashion, and I’ll summarize the more important of those here. (Actual quotes from the report are in block quotes, and all images were created by me.)
Responding to a “Priority 1” shooting call, Henry arrived at the scene to see two other Maryland State Troopers already on the scene. In the report Walker is repeatedly referenced as “the off duty police officer,” and immediately upon being contacted by Henry Walker displayed his badge and advised that he was an LEO from New Jersey.
Walker [Kia] advised he was stationary at the left turn signal to turn left onto MD Rt. 3 from eastbound Rt. 175. The victim’s vehicle [Honda] was in the right left turn lane next to his van.
When the light turned green, both vehicles made the left turn, however the victim’s [Honda] turned into the path of the [Kia].
This caused the [Kia] to go onto the shoulder. As Walker tried to get back into his lane, he noticed the other vehicle wouldn’t allow him back into the lane.
Walker lowered his window and said, “What are you doing, let me back in.”
A quick thought: Walker was in the driver’s seat of the Kia, with the Honda to his right. So as described Walker would have necessarily lowered his wife’s window to communicate across the width of his own to Harvey. I find it difficult to imagine myself doing this. Also, I would expect the window of the Honda Accord to be somewhat lower than that of the Kia minivan, such that from the vantage point of the Kia driver it’s not clear to me that much of the Honda’s driver’s side window would be viewable. If anyone has a Kia and the opportunity to park it alongside an Accord, I’d be interested in your observations on this point.
Racial Animus Enters the Record with Harvey’s Alleged Use of N-word
As the report continues, we see the claimed racial malice of Harvey enter the record:
The driver of the [Honda] (Joseph Harvey) replied, “Fuck you nigger, I ain’t afraid of you.”
Walker advised he stated, “I’m police, just back away, get away.”
Walker Oddly Decides to Accelerate Ahead of Harvey’s Vehicle
Then Walker says he did something which would be totally counter to my own likely reaction in such a situation:
Walker further advised he accelerated his vehicle to get in front of Harvey’s vehicle. Once in front he proceeded to the right lane.
It is invariably my policy at even the slightest hint of a road rage interaction that I encourage the other drive to go on ahead. That way I can keep him under observation, and if the opportunity presents I can turn off the road and disappear such that he would have to physically backtrack in order to deliberately pursue me–a pursuit which would contribute considerably to my reasonable fear.
Walker stated Harvey’s vehicle was tailgating at this point. Walker stated he was traveling towards Veteran’s Highway and at the last second he was going to merge back toward I-97 hoping Harvey’s vehicle would continue down Veteran’s Highway.
Once Walker’s vehicle went onto the merge to I-97, Harvey’s vehicle followed, still tailgating.
At this point the two vehicles would be traveling along the lengthy left-lane ramp from Rt. 3 onto I-97 (indicated in photo by white rectangle). A car remaining in the right lane of Rt. 3 would proceed on to Veteran’s Highway.
Walker Decides He’d Rather Let Harvey Go On Ahead, After All
Walker decided to pull his vehicle to let Harvey’s vehicle go hoping this would end it. Once he pulled over he heard the tires hit the rumble strips. Walker thought he had a flat tire.
So, NOW walker decided it would be better to have Harvey at his 12 o’clock rather than his 6 o’clock. Note that had he previously allowed Harvey to go ahead, Walker’s maneuver to break contact by suddenly transiting onto I-97 would have been far more likely to be successful.
Also, I can’t but note that driving across a rumble strip does not sound all that much like a flat tire–although, in fairness it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve experienced a flat tire.
Walker Fails to Observe Harvey and Pidel Traverse 164 Feet of Roadway
Once he stopped, Walker exited his van and went to the back to inspect the tires. Since none of the back tires were flat, he proceeded to the front of the ban to check the front tires. While inspecting the front tires, Walkers wife yelled to Walker advising the guys from the vehicle were approaching.
Hmmm. In the immediate aftermath of a frightening confrontation that arguably endangered both himself and his family, Walker seems oddly incurious about the location of his antagonists. Even if he had necessarily broken observation while he looked at his rear tires, it seems unimaginable than when walking from the rear of the minivan to the front that he would not raise his eyes and observe Harvey’s vehicle as well as Harvey and Pidel approaching, rather than need to be warned of their advance by his wife.
Walker Surprised to Find Harvey, Pidel Within 10 Feet of Him
When he turned around, the two occupants of Harvey’s vehicle were within ten (10) feet of him.
So, well within the “Tueler 21-feet,” then. Again, very hard to understand how they would close the ~150 feet distance between the vehicles and not be observed by Walker until they were merely 10 feet away.
Walker pulled out his badge and identified himself as a police officer. Walker told the two gentlemen (Harvey and Pidel) “go away”.
Harvey replied “Fuck you nigger, I ain’t afraid of you.”
Walker advised he pulled out his gun and started walking backwards toward the driver’s door.
At this point, Harvey started to charge at Walker. Walker felt his life and the life of his family was in danger so he fired his weapon.
Walker advised he fired his weapon 2, 3, or 4 times.
Walker Claims He Did Not Retrieve Gun Until Last Few Moments
Interestingly, Trooper Henry suggests that Walker had not displayed his gun up until this point–such that he was not, as has been speculated, holding his gun at ready watching Harvey traverse the 150 feet to him. Further, it appears that although Walker was carrying his pistol on his person, he was doing so in perhaps the least accessible manner possible, particularly for a 45ACP handgun.
When Cpl. Henry was talking to Walker about firing his weapon, Walker motioned as if he retrieved his weapon from a right ankle holster.
Having some experience wearing a S&W J-frame in an ankle holster, I found this manner of carry neither very comfortable, nor very concealable (admittedly a lesser concern for a cop), nor very accessible (and requiring a serious compromise of mobility while the weapon was being accessed). Of course, that’s merely my personal experience. People still buy ankle holsters, so I presume somebody out there likes them.
Nevertheless, it is simply unimaginable to me that with two larger antagonists confronting him from only 10 feet away, that they would simply stand there while Walker lifted his right ankle to retrieve his pistol or (more properly) went to his left knee to retrieve the pistol. As I imagine the necessary motions and personal dynamics, I find my credulity dangerously strained.
Walker never mentioned anything about the second occupant (Pidel).
We know that technically this is not correct, as the Trooper earlier referenced Walker recounting that “the two occupants of Harvey’s vehicle were within ten (10) feet of him.” So, Walker did mention Pidel.
Nevertheless, one can’t help but feel that if he had perceived Pidel as roughly equally as threatening as Harvey–a perception that would contribute, perhaps, to a disparity of force fear of death or grave bodily harm–then Walker would have mentioned as much to Henry.
Certainly, if I’d been compelled to go to my gun against unarmed attackers specifically because there were more of them than me, I’d probably be talking about little else than the fact that there’d been more of them than me.
In any case, that wraps up the substantive portion of Trooper Henry’s report.
In the spirit of an excess of caution, I want to note the obvious: the words being attributed to Walker by Henry in this report are just that–words being attributed to Walker by Henry. This report was not based on a recorded statement by Walker (although Henry’s statement to Investigator Roy was recorded), nor was Walker given the opportunity to review or correct any errors or omissions in this report. If asked, Walker might well object to any number of the statements attributed to him by Henry as being incorrect or misleading.
Police Sketch of Vehicles, Harvey’s Blood, Brass Casings
The next exhibit, labelled F, is a police sketch of the scene showing the location and position of the two vehicles–a measured 164 feet distance from driver’s door to driver’s door, with Harvey’s blood spatter 7′ 9″ from the front of the Kia’s bumper. One shell casing was found by the Kia’s passenger-side front wheel, which seems a reasonable location for ejection from a semi-auto pistol fired by the driver’s side of the car.
The other shell casing was found a full 18′ from the front of the Kia’s bumper, well past the site of blood splatter. This is clearly NOT a reasonable location for ejection from a semi-auto pistol fired by the driver’s side of the car, but a kicked piece of brass can travel a considerable distance along a hard surface.
OK, that’s it for today’s “road rage” post. I have another half-dozen pieces of evidence to post on, and plan to move through all of those over the course of the weekend–so keep your eyes here for daily updates on evidence from the Walker trial.
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.DONATE
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