An off-duty Baltimore City police officer who shot an acquaintance multiple times in York Township in April maintains he fired in self-defense, his attorney said.
At a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon, District Judge Scott Laird determined enough evidence exists for John Elliot Torres to stand trial on charges of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Torres, 33, of 333 Brentwood Drive, Apt. F, remains in York County Prison on $750,000 bail for the 12:25 p.m. April 29 shooting outside his apartment building.
"I don't believe Mr. Torres is guilty of either attempted homicide or aggravated assault and I believe the evidence will ... corroborate that," said first assistant public defender Clasina Houtman, who represents Torres. "We will be presenting a defense of self-defense."
Torres told police he fired in self-defense as well, she said.
'Self-serving': But senior deputy prosecutor Kelley Nelson called Torres' statements "self-serving."
The man he shot, David Hohman Sr., 34, of Baltimore, testified Monday after being wheeled into Laird's courtroom in a wheelchair.
Hohman said he was shot below the left knee, in the right thigh, in his chest, stomach and rib cage, and multiple times in the left arm. He spent eight days in York Hospital but was re-admitted to an area hospital on May 25 when he developed a blood clot, he testified. He said he was released Friday.
York Area Regional Police said Hohman was angry because he believed Torres was involved in a relationship with his wife, Ashley Hohman.
Hohman testified he's known Torres for nine or 10 years and that he had previously spoken to Torres, who had agreed to stay away. But Hohman said he learned Torres was trying to contact Ashley Hohman again.
Message for wife: The two men texted messages back and forth that morning, and Hohman announced he planned to tell Torres' wife about the relationship, testimony revealed.
"He advised me to leave him alone," Hohman said. "I told him it's not going to end until I speak with his wife."
Hohman said he drove to Torres' apartment complex and saw the officer's car parked there, so he began to pull behind it.
"He came out between two vehicles ... staring at me the whole time. I gave him, like, a half-wave," Hohman testified. "He unloaded his whole weapon on me."
Hohman said the first shot went through his windshield and something, perhaps glass, struck his forehead, causing it to bleed.
Hand over heart: He said he immediately ducked down "to get my head out of harm's way."
"I just lay there with my eyes closed," Hohman said, and his hand over his chest, "to try to protect my heart."
The second and third bullets came right away, with the third bullet going through his car door, he said.
"After the third shot there was a break in the shooting," Hohman recalled. "(Then) all I heard was gunshot after gunshot. ... I started getting hit all over the place."
Hohman said Torres pulled out his service weapon and started firing before Hohman could even put his car in park.
14 bullet holes: York Area Regional Police Detective Trent Buschman was the only other witness to take the stand at Torres' preliminary hearing.
He testified Hohman's car had 14 bullet holes in it, and that Torres' gun was empty when it was seized by police at the scene.
No weapons were found in Hohman's car, Buschman said.
Houtman, the defense attorney, asked Laird to reduce Torres' bail, but Nelson opposed the request, citing possible danger to Hohman and the community.
Laird declined to reduce bail, saying the fact Torres is a police officer "weighed heavily" in his decision to impose high bail.
"Someone in that position should never have reacted (in the way that's alleged)," the judge said.
Previous shooting: Torres shot and killed off-duty Baltimore City police officer Norman Stamp, 65, while responding to an incident at a strip club in Baltimore six years ago, according to The Baltimore Sun.
As police officers arrived at the club in April 2008, Stamp, who was hanging out with members of his motorcycle club, rushed out with brass knuckles. Torres struck him with a Taser, and, after Stamp reached for his service weapon, fired two shots, the report says.
A civil jury in 2010 dismissed a lawsuit filed by Stamp's widow, saying Torres acted appropriately.
Hired as a Baltimore officer in 2002, Torres remains suspended without pay, according to a department spokesman.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.