UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) - In his first public defense of his actions, former District Heights, Md., police sergeant Johnnie Riley told the jury in his attempted murder trial it "slipped his mind" that the suspect he shot in the back was in handcuffs.
He also said that he feared if he chased the man on foot he'd run into an ambush set by the man's friends. He claims he fired three times in an effort to gain control of the situation.He hit 26-year-old Calvin Kyle once.
It all happened in September of 2012 when Riley caught Kyle on a stolen motorcycle. Riley slapped Kyle in handcuffs, took his shoes and locked him in his police cruiser. Somehow Kyle slipped out of the car. A witness to the shooting said Riley threw his baton at Kyle but missed. He then fired twice, missing Kyle the first time but hitting him the second. Kyle, still running barefoot and handcuffed, went down face first.
Kyle, now paralyzed from the waist down, sued and won a financial settlement. Now Riley is fighting for his own future in court. He presented character witnesses who call the former cop and national guard sergeant a man of integrity. Riley admits only that he made tactical errors that day and that he was worried about a mysterious SUV creeping by his arrest scene. He says at the time he thought he was doing something right by shooting Kyle, but now he wishes he didn't.