The trial of a man who exchanged gunfire with a Richardson police officer during a shootout at a luxury car dealership began with that officer taking the stand.
Richardson Police Officer Robert Beddingfield told jurors about what he was feeling when 21-year-old Justin Strait ignored his commands during a burglary call to a car dealership in 2017. His body camera video was presented and showed how it all went down.
The shootout happened in March 2017. The court trial replayed the encounter for a jury of the burglary incident at the Lamborghini dealership in Dallas.
Officer Beddingfield recently told FOX 4 his split-second reaction and overall restraint with his use of force was based on his sense that Strait's mental state was altered.
"I appreciate everything the officer did,” said Eddie Strait, Justin’s father. “I thank God for softening his heart and that he didn't shoot him and nobody got hurt in the whole fiasco."
Justin’s family acknowledges the result of the burglary encounter and a chase that followed could very well have cost their son his life.
"We thank them from the bottom of our heart personally and wholeheartedly," said Mona Lisa Carter, Eddie's mother. "And that they were able to go to their families and Justin was able to have his life spared.”
Another look at the shootout with Justin firing first emphasizes how differently it could have ended.
Prosecutors charged Justin with aggravated assault on a public servant. His parents and supporters are hoping the jury will spare him prison time so he can receive the proper medical help they say he needs with his mental health.
“I was with him a few nights before he committed the incident. He's good. He just keeps to himself,” said friend D’Andre Peele. “He's a good man. He just needs a little help."
Justin’s attorney plans to enter an insanity plea based on medical records.