Trial begins in officer's gun death

Witness recalls 2006 shooting

By Beth LaMontagne Hall
Associated Press / October 22, 2008
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MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Manchester police officer who witnessed the fatal 2006 shooting of Officer Michael Briggs told the jury yesterday that he never saw the gunman's face.

During the first day of testimony in Michael Addison's capital murder trial, Officer John Breckinridge said he and Briggs were looking for Addison and Antoine Bell-Rogers the night Briggs was shot because they were suspects in a shooting.

During an early morning patrol on Oct. 16, the officers spotted two men walking in an alley. One resembled Addison, and Breckinridge said Briggs yelled for him to stop.

"The one in the gray sweat shirt stops right away . . . but the guy in the red continues walking," Breckinridge testified. "His hands are down by his belly, his waist area. He has his hood up, and his head's leaning down."

The suspect kept walking after a second command from Briggs to stop.

"Mike gets right up to him, and he's off his left shoulder and says a third time, 'Stop police,' and the guy in the red sweat shirt turned to his left, both arms came up to his chest; and I heard a loud bang," Breckinridge said.

"I saw it and for a second [it was] just a panic moment. The next thing I know I'm shooting at him, the guy in the red, and he's about 20 to 25 yards [away]."

Breckinridge said the shooter did not break stride but continued walking out of his sight.

Prosecutors had Breckinridge stand up and show how the shooter was only about a foot from Briggs when the shot was fired.

He also showed that the shooter turned quickly before firing the shot.

"Mike was on the ground; his eyes were rolled up. You could see the bottom half of his iris. His breathing was gurgled," said Breckinridge. "We're talking to him, saying, 'Hang on, Mike.' "

Breckinridge said the other officers interviewed the man in the gray sweat shirt, who said he did not know who the shooter was but that he was just trying to buy marijuana from him.

The man in gray was later identified as Bell-Rogers.

"We kept Mike's helmet on at first," Breckinridge said. "I didn't see any blood, then after a while I could see it on his head and neck."

"I was holding Mike's left hand, and he squeezed it real slightly. His right hand did it at the same time, too - I don't know if it was nerves or what."

Addison could face the death penalty if convicted.

Addison's lawyer told the jury Monday that Addison indeed fired the shot, but said the shooting was reckless, not intentional, so Addison should not be convicted of capital murder.

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