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    “Road Rage” Murder Trial: Walker Appeared to Goad Harvey: “Come on.”

    “Road Rage” Murder Trial: Walker Appeared to Goad Harvey: “Come on.”

    “[Walker] was standing like he was kind of daring [Harvey] to come, like, come on.” “[Walker] made head nod, like come on.”

    Our next piece of evidence from the Joseph Walker trial is the transcribed interview of a pair of witnesses, a married couple traveling together, who drove by the shooting scene. Their names have been redacted from this transcript, so because this transcript was attached as Exhibit G to the defense’s recent motion to dismiss the charges against Walker, I will refer to them as Mr. and Ms. G.

    The interview is conducted by the Maryland State Police’s Lead Investigator on this case, Trooper First Class (TFC) Myles Roy, on June 13, 2013, five days after the incident on June 8.

    Ms. G was driving their vehicle, which contained just herself and her husband. They were driving on Route 3 northbound to I-97, the same stretch of road on which Walker would shoot Harvey. TFC Myles asked them to describe what they saw as they approached the scene.

    Walker Already Standing by Minivan When Harvey and Pidel Exit Honda

    Ms. G: We saw two vehicles pulled to the side. We saw a gentleman in a minivan get out, cross his arms, and do like a head nod kid of thing. And then we saw two gentlemen in the car in front get out and start approaching the man at the minivan.

    TFC Roy: Then you said there were two people in that Honda.

    Ms. G: I actually saw them outside the car. I saw one approaching from the passenger’s side, and I saw one approaching from the driver’s side. And they are both walking towards the minivan, the gentleman and the minivan.

    And near the end of the transcript:

    Mr. G: The little car [Harvey’s Honda], they were like – he was shutting the door and started making his way towards the minivan.

    That, then, was the start of their observation of the conflict. They passed when Harvey and Pidel were not yet halfway to the minivan, and Mr. G observed a few moments longer through his rearview mirror.

    TFC Roy: Where were they in reference to the actual vehicle? Like how far away from the vehicle did you see them get?

    Ms. G: I saw them get – they were not halfway distance between their car and the minivan when I passed them.

    Walker “Very Large,” Harvey “Stocky,” Pidel Smaller

    TFC Roy: Okay. Can you describe that man that was next to the van?

    Ms. G: Very large African American man, looked like he was bald. Very large, 6’ 5”, 6’ 6”, somewhere around there probably.

    Ms. G: The gentleman, the driver, looked to be heavyset to me. And I believe he was wearing shorts. And so – I remember him. And I remember the passenger gentleman to look smaller in statute than the gentleman that was driving.

    No Weapons Were Observed

    TFC Roy: Did you happen to see if they had anything in their hands, any kind of weapons or anything like that?

    Ms. G: I saw their hands, kind of that stocky, blown-up chest walk from the driver, but I didn’t see anything in his hands.

    TFC Roy: Okay. How about the driver of the van?

    Ms. G: I did not see anything in his hands. I

    TFC Roy: Sir, did you see anything in either of their hands?

    Mr. G: No. I didn’t see anybody having any weapons.

    Mr. G: Walker Appeared to Goad Harvey, and Harvey Eager to Confront

    They did, however, described Walker as presenting a demeanor they perceived as goading Harvey and Pidel to approach. This is vastly different than Walker’s recounting at the scene that he was inspecting his tires and did not observe Harvey and Pidel until they were within 10 feet of him at his minivan.

    Mr. G: Like she said, he was standing like, kind of like to me, in my point of view, he was like kind of daring him to come, you know, like you say, you know, come on, you know.

    TFC Roy: And who are you talking about?

    Mr. G: I’m talking about the guy in the minivan. He was standing there asking them to come on. They were both like the same distance apart, maybe not even 10, 15 feet away from the trunk of their car heading towards him. The driver [Harvey], a stocky, big guy, it looked like his hands were clenched and like in a pissed-off manner, was heading towards him, like he wanted to confront them.

    Mr. G: And, you know, after we passed him up, I looked in my rearview mirror. And it looked like the black guy leaned over, opened his door, and reached in for something. And I don’t know what it was or anything. He didn’t pull out anything by the time we passed.

    Ms. G: Walker Made “Head Nod, Like Come On”

    TFC Roy: Did you hear anything?

    Mr. G: Not at all.

    Ms. G: And I didn’t see any lips moving, like somebody – like they were exchanging anything.

    TFC Roy: No hand gestures?

    Ms. G: I just saw the head nod, like come on.

    TFC Roy: And that was from the guy with the van?

    Ms. G: Yes, sir. And, of course, I’m inferring what he was thinking. You know, he may have been – maybe that’s a nervous tic that he has. I’m just inferring that’s what it looked like to me. That he was like come on.

    Witnesses Describe Walker as “Aggressive” and Harvey as “Ready to Rumble”

    Mr. G: I didn’t think it would have been somebody dying, or, you know, or him pulling out a gun.

    TFC Roy: But did you think it may escalate to a fight or something like that?

    Mr. G: Yeah, because he came – he came with an aggressive attitude. And, you know, the guy who was walking towards the minivan, he was like ready to rumble. And – and obviously, the other guy was nudging him on, you know. He was like come on. So I – I thought they were just – if it was a fist fight, that happens all the time, you know.

    Harvey Closed on Walker at a Fast Walk, Not a Run

    TFC Roy: Did you get a sense of haw fast they were traveling towards the van?

    Ms. G: I didn’t feel like they were traveling that fast. They surely weren’t running.

    Mr. G: I though it was like he wanted to get there, you know, kind of. He looked like he was, you know, ready to go over there and see what’s going on.

    TFC Roy: But he wasn’t like running or sprinting.

    Mr. G: No.

    TFC Roy: Would you describe like a faster paced walk or –

    Mr. G: Yeah.

    TFC Roy: And then was that both of them?

    Mr. G: In the beginning? Yeah.

    TFC Roy: Looking in the rearview mirror, did you ever seem them break apart or one person slow down or –

    Mr. G: No.

    Walker Not Seen to Display Any Indicia of LEO Status

    TFC Roy: You saw the gentleman standing next to the van – obviously it’s now known that he was a police officer – did you see any kind of identification—

    MS. G: No, sir.

    Mr. G: No.

    TFC Roy: — that would have led for you to believe that he was a police officer, whether he was holding a badge or wearing a badge? Or did you see a gun holster –

    Ms. G: No, sir.

    TFC Roy: — any kind of police gear or –

    Mrs. G: No, sir.

    Mr. G: Not at all.

    And that’s it for the substantive part of the transcript. Here’s the whole thing, for your viewing pleasure:

    –-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


    Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.

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    Comments


    Andrew, this is the exact type of situation I referenced in another self-defense thread (Dunn): Two men, apparently agreeing to engage in a fistfight, then one escalates with deadly force.

    Do the facts in the ‘Walker-Harvey’ case as presently known show Walker to be in a reasonable fear for his life? Do two men advancing on one man with his family change the facts?

    I don’t know if I could get past any reasonable doubt here for murder. Vol-Manslaughter maybe.

      When I first started covering this story I believed that the greatest threat to Walker’s self-defense claim was that he failed to take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat, by simply getting back in his minivan, putting his flashers on, and slowly rolling backwards.

      Even if he rolled back at only 1-2 mph, slow enough that Harvey could have caught up on foot, he’d still have the narrative of Harvey running him down. Realistically, seeing that perfectly adequate, lengthy, and reasonably straight on-ramp with the broad, paved shoulder, I certainly would have been able to reverse safely at a speed in excess of Harvey’s foot speed.

      Might Harvey have run back to his own car, u-turned, and re-engaged the “road rage”? Sure. But then we’d have a different set of facts.

      Now, the defense argument is that Walker was acting in defense of others, and under MD law there is no duty to retreat when defending others.

      And that may be true, and if his counsel is very convincing it may be enough. After all, Harvey was, one could argue, a racist, confrontational a-hole looking for a road-side fight.

      To my mind, however, this looks like a completely unnecessary killing. And that can be tough to get past a jury’s moral conscience–especially in a blue state like MD.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


         
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        Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        “After all, Harvey was, one could argue, a racist, confrontational a-hole looking for a road-side fight.”

        Yep. That is a fair argument, based on what little we know now.

        That leaves a very long and tenuous road before the defense can show how Harvey posed any threat whatsoever to any third party. And right now, I see no evidence to support that.


           
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          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | March 16, 2014 at 5:35 am

          I will go one step farther and say that I am convinced that Harvey was a a “racist, confrontational a-hole”, but none of those 3 things justifies Walker shooting him.


         
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        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 16, 2014 at 3:45 am

        …..thus the defense has conceded the point that Walker did not retreat.

    I have a thought for any LEOs reading this. Do the police get any training that prepares them mentally for firing their weapon at close range into another human being? I can’t seem to get by the peculiarity of the actions by Walker. He is a trained cop, has a gun and I assume his badge with him. As big old Harvey was advancing toward him, why didn’t he just avoid any confrontation by displaying his gun and badge, saying he is a cop? Unless Harvey was impaired by alcohol or drugs, a gun and a badge is pretty much all a person would need to see in order to back off and calm down. (Cops do things that we laypersons do not understand, such as using deadly force against a one legged guy in a wheelchair wielding a screwdriver.)

    So why is this important to me? Unlike George Zimmerman and quite like Michael Dunn, the facts as known show me that Walker was itching for a confrontation, knowing that he held the trump card in the form of a weapon. Walker failed to de-escalate or retreat, regardless of whether he had a legal duty to do so. I don’t buy Walker’s story that he stopped to check his tires and all of a sudden, Harvey was on him before he had a chance to do anything.

    Still a no on the Murder charge, still a maybe on the Voluntary Manslaughter.


       
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      Gremlin1974 in reply to Redneck Law. | March 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

      Frankly the most outstanding thing here to me is that Walker claimed that he fired a “Warning Shot”. Unless that has been disproved at this point. I can’t imagine any law enforcement agency that condones much less teaches their officers to fire “warning shots”. To me a “warning shot” is just as good as firing randomly into public and I refuse to believe that liability conscious agency’s would tell their officer to engage in such practices. So why did Walker “fire a warning shot”?


     
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    sequester | March 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Andrew,

    In the original pre grand jury charge, Walker was charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon in apparent contravention of 18 U.S. Code § 926B.

    Do you know what happened to those charges?

      The “gun charges” he’s currently facing are not gun charges per se, but the “extra punishment for having used a gun” type charges as imposed by Florida’s “10-20-Life” statute.

      If he’s cleared of murder, these gun charges also disappear, as they are a function of the underlying killing.

      Unlike, say, a gun possession charge which could stand on its own merits, even if the killing was lawful (theoretically, not under these facts).

      –Andrew @LawSelfDefense


     
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    Aridog | March 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Just in case you are still listen Gremlin1974 your comment here:

    I would have been ready to move when big boy got to the 100 foot mark. Then I would have blown past him and his buddy …

    …actually mirrors my point of view and would change my opinion, even though you alleged I would not do so.

    Please understand, my perspective, perhaps unduly influenced by military experience, is one solely of “survival.” Only one aspect of that requires shooting someone. That aspect could have been avoided by the proposal you’ve suggested…one I would have followed myself (I may have said something like that earlier, can’t find it now).

    I am still not convinced that Harvey wasn’t the one who wanted to fight…you have to be either pretty fired up or pretty stupid to intentionally walk back in to an ambush…really. A tried and true tactic is to engage and enemy then draw them in to an ambush…old as Hannibal.

    In short, had Harvey one ounce of sense he would have driven away from his frontal position and be alive to day. I am not convinced this “right” to be anywhere you want to be and do whatever you want to do (beat crap out of someone) is a protected action when the opposite could be in fear for their life (whether they were of not is not the issue to me).

    Very simply, Harvey is dead due to his foolishness. I’ve been lured to enter a building, once upon a time, that was a trap of explosive nature…didn’t do that. We waited and found the opposition in the building next door, radio time ensued…three 155 mm artillery rounds eliminated that problem…both of them. See if we’d entered the occupied building, not the bobby trapped building, we’d have been in danger of being shot by men who were justifiably in fear for their life…since our aim was to kill them, given the times. They not be murderers would they. Nor would we.

    Fights are best not started, but when they are not being stupid is the key to survival. Harvey was stupid, and not so innocently, no more than we would have been entering that building.

    Survival is all that matters, for you and anyone along side of you. You win by being smarter not more macho. None of that justifies lethal force per se…but if I was a juror, I’d be skeptical of any claim that Walker wasn’t in fear….except for your point about what he could have done, boogied straight ahead as Harvey approached. I can see and feel that.

    That means both of them could have avoided the lethal consequences. I’d be pressed hard on that matter. Let’s see what else comes out. I don’t care about of all the blather…simple facts sway me…like the distance, the motivation to engage by whom, and like the opportunity to flee forward as you suggest.

    See my mind is already changing. Maybe. You do make a good point that most rational ordinary men can grasp. All the lawyer talk and various “testimony” is less important to me than the physical environment and what potential is available there. Your point is well taken.

    Ragspierre is right, as he often is, no sane lawyer, either side, would want me on any jury….because I am not listening to all the blather…just looking a the simple physical aspects and the simplest of emotional responses….as I have experienced them myself.


       
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      Gremlin1974 in reply to Aridog. | March 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      I stand happily corrected. I agree that Harvey was the more overtly aggressive and confrontational of the 2 parties. My main thing here is that a cop from all we have so far basically did nothing to try to deescalate the situation before resorting to deadly force, had he been on duty when this happened he would be undergoing an IA investigation, but I am not even sure that it would be ruled a good shoot for an on duty cop.

      I understand your point on survival, especially in combat, however those “combat responses” can get you in a great deal of trouble in civilian life, which I am certain you already know.

      Thank you for your service and have a great day.


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