Video shows slain officer's last moments

November 13, 2008 4:11:57 PM PST
A frantic radio call to police dispatch and surveillance tape of the shooting of two officers were presented to a jury Wednesday as an officer wounded in the incident testified he thought he was just making a routine traffic stop right until he was hit. Herman Yan, who was promoted to detective after the incident, said he did a routine check of a sport utility vehicle's license plate in front of his police car while on patrol in Brooklyn on July 9, 2007, and it came up registered to a different type of vehicle. So he and his partner, Russel Timoshenko, turned on their lights and told the SUV driver to pull over. They got out and walked toward the vehicle, their guns still in their holsters.

Yan testified he couldn't see who was in the SUV at the time of the shooting.

"My intentions were to go up to the driver's side window and ask for information," he testified in the murder trial of three men accused in the shooting.

Instead, Yan said, he heard about four gunshots and felt he was hit.

Yan is heard on the dispatch recording screaming for help as he radioed for backup. He was hit in the left arm and chest. His bullet-resistant vest saved his life.

Yan showed his scars to the jurors, who also saw photos of his injuries at the time of the shooting. He said he required three surgeries and wasn't able to return to full duty until April 2008.

On the tape shown in Brooklyn court, the officers are getting out of their car. As they approach the SUV, Timoshenko is seen going down almost instantly as Yan races back to the police car holding his arm. Then other officers arrive.

Timoshenko was shot twice in the face at close range as he approached the passenger side door of the SUV. He never regained consciousness and died several days later.

After the SUV sped off, Yan said, "I observed my partner lying on the sidewalk as I was talking on the radio."

Dexter Bostic, Robert Ellis and Lee Woods have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors said the three acted as a team to shoot the officers because they were caught with a stolen SUV and with illegal weapons in the vehicle: Bostic shot Timoshenko, Ellis hit Yan simultaneously and Woods was the driver.

Defense attorneys for the men noted the surveillance tape doesn't show the front of the SUV, or the shooting and the audio doesn't depict who was in the vehicle. They say there's no proof of who did the shooting or that the three were acting as a team.

After the shooting, Bostic and Ellis, who were roommates, went to Pennsylvania, where they planned to hide in the woods and live off peanut butter and crackers, prosecutors said. They were captured after a few days in a patch of trees near Interstate 80.

Woods, who dated Bostic's sister, did not go with them and was captured separately.

The three later made statements implicating each other in the crimes, so they are being tried with separate juries for each defendant at one trial. The juries heard opening statements separately but are hearing testimony together.

The testimony Wednesday prompted tears from Timoshenko's family.

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