A fired Garland police officer who is on trial for killing a suspect took the stand Thursday in his own defense.
Former Officer Patrick Tuter is accused of firing 41 shots at Michael Allen after a 2012 high-speed chase. He gave jurors his account of the fatal shooting.
Tuter recalled spotting Allen’s truck in Garland and recognizing that it matched the description of a truck that had gotten away after a chase in Sachse. He said he called for backup and tried to initiate a traffic stop, but Allen took off and reached speeds of 120 miles per hour.
The officer said he stayed as calm as he could despite the fact that it was a high-speed chase. He believes Allen was actually the one who was being "extremely reckless," especially when he shut off his headlights and turned into a neighborhood.
When asked why he didn’t just let Allen go, Tuter said he knew he had a police helicopter and backup helping him. And with Allen’s history of evading arrests, he didn’t want him to do it again.
Tuter said he believed Allen would injure or kill someone during the chase if he was not arrested quickly. He made the decision to try to stop him by getting in front of his truck.
He said he thought the chase was ending and that he’d be able to make an arrest, but then he heard Allen’s engine rev and his tires screech as his squad car was pulled backward. He also saw Allen screaming and beating his hands on the steering wheel.
“This is the worst possible scenario that you can be in. It was terrifying,” Tuter said.
The officer said there was a lot of smoke from the screeching tires. Through the smoke, he saw Allen reach down to his right and believed he was grabbing for a gun.
“It was terrifying. I’m thinking he’s not stopping and I’m about to die,” Tuter said.
Tuter told the jurors his first 16 rounds of gunfire had “zero effect.” He said his goal was to stop the threat.
In cross examination, the prosecutor asked Tuter if the other responding Garland officers who testified against him were lying. Tuter said they didn't see what he saw.
The prosecutor pressed Tuter about how he was able to see Allen reach down if there was so much smoke from the squealing tires and why none of the other officers saw the same thing.
When the prosecutor asked Tutor if he felt remorse about killing a man in the line of duty he said no. He said "I wanted to live. I wanted to go home. I have a family."
The defense also called several Mesquite Police Department investigators to the stand.
Investigator Shawn Hanley said he believes Tuter's use of deadly force was necessary and that officers are trained to shoot until the threat stops.
Don Phillips was the assistant to the lead investigator at the shooting scene. He said if he believed Tuter had committed a crime he could have gotten a warrant to arrest him, but he didn’t. He found no evidence of a crime or reckless actions.
Prosecutors called their last witnesses Wednesday, including another Garland officer who did call Tuter’s actions reckless and a Mesquite crime scene investigator who showed the jury numerous photos of Allen’s bullet-riddled truck.
Jurors also heard from the medical examiner who testified Allen died from three gunshot wounds. Two of them entered from the back.
Investigators did not find a weapon in his truck but did find a meth pipe.
Closing arguments are expected to begin on Friday.