AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin police officer, who shot a former marine during a tense stand-off, was questioned in court Friday about why he pulled the trigger.
The recorded sound of gunshots rang through this Travis County courtroom Friday. Officer Adrian Chopin who fired one of the shots spent much of the morning in the witness stand.
He was questioned by defense attorney Skip Davis about the decision to use lethal force against Gene Phillip Vela before a swat team could arrive. Davis asked Chopin what was threat that motivated him to pull the trigger
"Your client Mr. Vela," said Officer Chopin who also said Vela, at the time, was not pointing a gun at him.
Chopin testified he believed vela was about to shoot his commanding officer who had sought cover near Vela's second floor apartment. Davis believes Vale, a former Marine with PTSD, was the one in danger. Chopin was questioned by Davis about recorded comments made after Vela was wounded.
"I believe I said he was dancing around with a gun in his hand, not, that's what you get for dancing around with a damn gun in your hand," explained Chopin.
There was also a comment that was recorded in response to how Vela was being described by someone else on the scene.
"I think I said, can we start calling him a suspect and not the victim," said Chopin.
On November 10, 2013, Vela had a metal breakdown according to Davis was disoriented and needed help not a confrontation with police. Prosecutors argue that Vela wasn't confused but knew police were there to talk to him and the action taken during the stand-off was necessary because of Vela's aggressive behavior.
The jury was shown the gun that police claim Vela was waving around that night, as well as the damage to the gun barrel caused when a bullet fired by Officer Chopin slammed into it.
Ammunition recovered from Vela's apartment was also introduced as evidence as well as a laser targeting device.
The laser wasn't found attached to a gun but was allegedly flashed toward police officers by Vela during the standoff.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Saturday, weather permitting.