Defense attorney grills officers about Doneghy's arrest

defense grills police about scale of response, actions at apartment

jkegley@herald-leader.comJune 22, 2011 

Testimony grew heated Tuesday in the murder trial of Glenn Doneghy as defense attorney Kate Dunn grilled police officers who said Doneghy splashed them with an unknown chemical while they tried to make contact with him.

Dunn criticized Lexington police Sgt. Roger Holland, Sgt. Franklin Patrick and officer Brian Peterson for not keeping samples of what she called "the terrorist liquid." The sergeants testified that it had a "bleach-like" smell that caused redness and burning, but the substance was never identified.

The officers were part of the department's Emergency Response Unit, a tactical team that was called to gain access to Doneghy, who had barricaded himself in his apartment on Northland Drive for more than three hours after the hit-and-run crash that killed officer Bryan Durman.

Doneghy is accused of driving the vehicle that fatally struck Durman. He is charged with murder, fleeing the scene of an accident, possession of cocaine and marijuana, and four counts of assault for splashing three officers with the chemical and stabbing another.

Holland and Patrick were the first officers to tell what happened in the hallway of the complex at 309 Northland Drive outside Doneghy's apartment. Police converged on that address when a sergeant found Doneghy's damaged Chevrolet Tahoe in the parking lot. The sport-utility vehicle matched the description of the one that hit Durman.

When the officers arrived, they did not know whether Doneghy was inside or whether anyone else was with him. When the apartment was searched after the arrest, no one else was there.

Holland broke open Doneghy's door with a hand-held ram after they tried unlocking it with a key and found that it was bolted shut, he testified. A coffee table pushed between the door and an inside wall prevented it from opening more than a foot, he said.

Patrick then stuck a rifle-mounted flashlight through the door and saw Doneghy "charging." He splashed the officers and slammed the door shut, Patrick testified.

Patrick said the emergency response unit was called to investigate and try to make contact with Doneghy, not necessarily to arrest him. After he splashed them, they "were there to arrest him," Patrick said.

"We didn't really know what we had until it developed due to his actions," he said.

Dunn asked why the heavily armored emergency response unit was called just to "have a chat with Mr. Doneghy." Police said the unit's response was similar to other situations involving death or when a person has barricaded himself or herself in a building.

Dunn hinted that police response was too extreme. She questioned the officers at length about the type of equipment they carried, including guns, Tasers, goggles, gloves, gas masks, bulletproof vests, helmets and shields.

She criticized the officers for not having photographs taken of the injuries caused by the chemical, and trivialized the severity of the injuries. Dunn said the chemical was washed off with "salt water." She pointed out a medical report and said Sgt. Sam Murdock's stab wound was "a scratch with no blood loss."

Patrick testified that after a form of tear gas was sent into the apartment through a window, Doneghy poked his head out his door, "looked left, looked right," and then ran for the exit.

He met officers outside and was "hit with a shield." Officers tackled him and piled on top of him when he began flailing his arms and legs.

Sgt. David Ashford said he hit Doneghy with his knee when it appeared Doneghy was going to bite him. Dunn suggested Doneghy's mouth was open because he was gasping for air.

Patrick said he pointed a flashlight beam at a small paring knife that was clutched in his hand. Ashford said "it was everything I could do" to pry the knife from his fingers.

Dunn asked whether Doneghy was taken to an ambulance for treatment of his injuries. Patrick said he was. A paramedic testified Doneghy had scrapes and a knot on his head.

During his testimony, Patrick accused Dunn of "twisting what I'm saying" during a debate about whether Patrick saw Doneghy being walked to the ambulance or whether he learned of it later.

"No I'm not," Dunn replied.

"Yes ma'am," Patrick replied.

Judge James Ishmael interjected and told Dunn to stop "arguing with the witness" and ask another question.

Other witnesses who testified Tuesday included a Frankfort medical examiner who said Durman was likely killed on impact and a state police forensic scientist who testified that the substance found in Doneghy's pocket was crack cocaine.

Jurors also viewed a video and photos of a crack pipe, marijuana and alcohol that police found in Doneghy's apartment.

At the end of the day, Ishmael told jurors there was a possibility the trial, which was scheduled to end Thursday, would have to be extended into next week. He asked jurors to check with their families and work schedules to see if they would be available.

If the trial goes past Friday, the jury would be reduced to 12 members. Fourteen members were originally seated, but one alternate was dismissed because of a family issue Monday and another has been excused next week, the judge said.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

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