Jackson denies he wanted to hurt officer he shot at
Trev Bowies Jackson II took the witness stand Wednesday in his own defense and admitted firing his illegal gun three times after being pulled over for a traffic violation by Northern York County Regional Police.
Jackson, 25, who grew up on York City's south side, also admitted he knew his car smelled of marijuana and that because he was on state parole he was likely going to be thrown back in prison. He'd already served 5½ years upstate for dealing crack-cocaine and being a previously convicted felon in illegal possession of a gun, and now he was in possession of both marijuana and another illegal gun.
"I didn't want to go to jail," he told jurors. "I definitely didn't want to get caught with those drugs and that gun on me."
But Jackson insisted he didn't intend to shoot Officer Lynn Anderson Jr. — despite firing a round so close to Anderson it left powder burns on the officer's face and in his eye. He said he only meant to "create space" between himself and Anderson, so he could get away.
The encounter was recorded on the dashboard camera in Anderson's cruiser, and jurors viewed that video a number of times during trial and twice during deliberations.
Deliberating: The jury deliberated about three hours before going home for the night about 6 p.m. without reaching a verdict. They are set to resume discussions at 9 a.m. Thursday to decide whether Jackson is guilty of attempted first-degree murder, assault on a law-enforcement officer and reckless endangerment.
A conviction on the assault-on-law-enforcement charge carries a mandatory sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison, according to chief deputy prosecutor Dave Sunday, and the attempted murder charge has a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
On the witness stand, Jackson, of East College Avenue, recounted his version of the traffic stop about 10 p.m. Nov. 22, 2015, in front of Rita's Italian Ice in the Crossroads Shopping Center along Route 30 in Manchester Township.
In response to questions by defense attorney Davis Younts, Jackson gave his reason for firing a .380 Hi-Point handgun as he and Anderson stood next to each other.
"I did that to try to get some room between me and Mr. Anderson," he testified, adding if he'd have wanted to kill the officer, he could have. "My goal was to get away from that scene."
Intent at issue: Under cross-examination by Sunday, Jackson agreed he knew police had probably already called in his license-plate number to 911 before stopping him, so they would already know his identity. Also, he'd dropped his driver's license on the ground, so police would have that as well, he confirmed.
But Jackson insisted he didn't fire at Anderson.
"I shot ... above his right shoulder, above his face," Anderson said, to "startle" the officer. "I thought he was going to back up off me."
Jackson denied even firing in Anderson's direction.
"I believe I did shoot (the gun) off to the side ... not in the direction of his face," the defendant testified. "I don't think you see me pointing the gun at his head in this video."
During his closing argument Wednesday, Sunday scoffed at Jackson's assertions and laid out scenarios in which Jackson could have fled without having had to fire the gun.
An inch: Sunday argued to jurors that the video clearly shows Jackson pointed the gun at Anderson's face.
"What other intent exists?" the prosecutor asked. "You move that gun over an inch (and) this is a whole different trial."
He also argued Jackson had no way of knowing whether he'd struck Anderson with the first bullet and so he fired twice more.
"What greater proof is there of a man's mind than his actions?" Sunday said, adding that killing Anderson "was the only way" Jackson was going to avoid going back to prison, and he knew it.
"He tried to kill (Anderson)," the prosecutor said. "There's no other explanation, ladies and gentlemen."
But in his closing argument, Younts, the defense attorney, told jurors Jackson merely reacted and that he fled the scene with five bullets still left in his gun.
"There was no deliberate, conscious decision to harm Officer Anderson," Younts said. "He made a reactionary decision that was stupid and foolish."
Officer testified: Anderson, now 30, testified Tuesday that after the first bullet whizzed past his face, burning it, he couldn't tell whether he'd been hit or not.
"I was actually afraid to look at my face," he told jurors. "It happened so fast. I never saw the gun. All I remember is ... the gun blast."
Anderson explained he "ducked and rolled ... to find some kind of cover," and that Jackson fired twice more as Anderson dove to safety.
Jackson jumped back into his car and took off, the video shows.
"I unholstered my duty pistol and fired seven rounds at it," Anderson testified. Four of the rounds hit the car, and Jackson was struck in the left hand, police have said.
After fleeing the scene, Jackson abandoned his car a short distance away.
Jackson broke into a shed at a home on Zoar Avenue and hid there, then stole a bicycle and rode it to the York City home of a sometime-girlfriend, who patched up his hand, according to testimony.
A five-month manhunt ensued until U.S. marshals captured Jackson in Philadelphia.
Sunday told jurors that when Jackson was caught, he was carrying "the exact same firearm he used to try to kill Officer Anderson."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.