Son testifies in father's shooting
Prince George's County police Cpl. Steven Jackson beat an unresisting Manuel de Jesus Espina with his metal baton and his fists, then shot him as Espina, his eyes shut and filled with blood, struggled to his feet, Espina's son testified Monday.
After shooting his father, Manuel de Jesus Espina Jacome testified, Jackson provided no medical aid. Espina Jacome said he performed CPR on his fatally wounded father, but his efforts were stopped when other officers arrived and Jackson directed one of them to arrest him.
Espina Jacome testified in a civil trial in Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro, where a jury will decide whether Jackson, 27, is civilly liable for the death of Espina, who was 43.
Espina's relatives have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jackson and the county in connection with the August 16, 2008, incident.
Jackson shot Espina inside a Langley Park apartment where the officer was moonlighting as a security guard. Jackson has testified that Espina took a swing at him and fought him down two flights of stairs. Jackson testified that inside the apartment, Espina Jacome pushed him from behind, and suddenly four or five other men appeared and threatened him. Jackson said Espina reached for his service weapon, so he shot him.
Espina Jacome, now 24, took the stand in the third week of the trial. He testified through an interpreter, and provided an account that was starkly different from Jackson's, and consistent with that of other plaintiff witnesses.
Under direct examination by Thomas C. Mooney, a member of the plaintiff's legal team, Espina Jacome, who works as an electrician, testified that the day started out as a joyous one, as he and other relatives and friends prepared for a dinner to celebrate his father's birthday that day.
Espina Jacome testified that he, his father, and his mother lived in an apartment next door to the building where Jackson shot his father. The building they lived in and the one in which Espina was shot are part of the same complex.
Espina Jacome said he was shaving when he had a bad premonition, and he went outside. A neighbor told him that a police officer was beating his father, and pointed to the building next door, Espina Jacome testified.
Espina Jacome said he ran to front entrance of the building, which consists of a glass door, and saw Jackson hitting his father with his fists. His father was limping, he was bleeding profusely from his face, and his eyes were closed, Espina Jacome said.
Espina Jacome said he tried to open the door, but it was locked.
As Jackson threw punches, his father tried to put his hands in front of his face, Espina Jacome said.
His father fell, and when he tried to get to his feet, Jackson took the metal police baton from his belt and struck Espina in the head, the face, and on his back and one of his legs, Espina Jacome testified.
Mooney asked whether Espina ever hit or tried to hit Jackson. "He couldn't do anything. How could he hit anyone, he couldn't even see," Espina Jacome testified. "He had no way of defending himself. [Jackson] was hitting my father very hard."
With one baton blow, Jackson knocked Espina down a set of stairs that led to the basement, Espina Jacome testified.
Jackson continued striking Espina, and then the door to a basement apartment opened, Espina Jacome testified.
The apartment was inhabited by friends who were preparing his father's birthday dinner, Espina Jacome said.
Espina Jacome said he kicked in the screen in front of a kitchen window to the basement apartment, and went inside.
Jackson was beating his father in the living room, Espina Jacome said. He yelled three times for Jackson to stop beating his father, Espina Jacome testified.
Espina Jacome said Jackson struck Espina with his firsts, knocking the older man to the ground. When his father struggled to his feet, Jackson slugged him again, knocking him to the floor, Espina Jacome said.
Jackson kept uttering an expletive, Espina Jacome said. Another witness to the shooting, Elvia Rivera, who lived in the apartment, testified last week that Jackson beat an unresisting Espina before shooting him. Rivera also testified that Jackson swore at Espina as he beat him.
Blood was filling his father's eyes, Espina Jacome testified.
"It was so painful to see my father," Espina Jacome said. "He was being devoured like a lion devours a little deer."
Espina Jacome said he told Jackson that "it was wrong what he was doing, and God was watching."
To try to save his father, Espina Jacome said, he grabbed his father and pushed him onto a sofa.
Espina struggled to get to his feet, Espina Jacome said. At that point, Jackson "walked toward him, took out his gun, and shot him."
"I started crying," Espina Jacome testified. He said he ran to his father and began adminstering CPR, which he had learned in high school, while Jackson ran to the only door to the apartment, which the officer kept open with one foot.
When he screamed to to Jackson to call an ambulance, the officer replied, "Shut the [expletive] up," Espina Jacome testified.
Espina Jacome testified that neither he nor his father ever struggled with Jackson over the officer's police baton, as Jackson had testified earlier in the trial. Espina Jacome testified that there was no mob of four or five additional men who menaced Jackson, as the officer earlier testified.
Espina Jacome said his mother, Estela, went into the apartment moments after the shooting and began crying out, asking Jackson in Spanish why he had shot her husband.
Mooney asked Espina Jacome to listen to an audiotape of a 911 call made by Rivera moments after the shooting.
Espina Jacome, dressed in a black suit and a black dress shirt, began weeping as he listened to the sound of his mother wailing, and then a male voice screaming, "Shut the [bleep] up! [Bleep] you!"
Espina Jacome took a tissue from a box set on the plaintiff attorneys' table, wiped away his tears, then identified the two voices as his mother asking Jackson why did he shoot her husband, and Jackson responding with obscenities.
Jackson was the only police officer inside the apartment when the obscenities were uttered, Espina Jacome said.
The trial is expected to last at least another week.
| March 1, 2011; 8:01 AM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse, Pr. George's, Ruben Castaneda, Updates | Tags: Prince George's County police brutality, police misconduct
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