When NYPD Officer Brian Moore was on anti-crime patrol in Queens Village the evening of May 2, 2015, with his partner Eric Jansen, the pair spotted a man who they suspected might have a weapon. The cops pulled up in an unmarked car.
“Police. You got something?” Moore said to the man.
Those were Moore’s last words, according to investigators.
It was then, Queens Executive Assistant District Attorney Daniel Saunders said in court Friday, that Demetrius Blackwell answered “Yeah, I got something,” pulled out a silver revolver and fired three shots, mortally wounding Moore, who died two days later. Jansen was not hurt.
During opening arguments Friday in the first-degree murder trial of Blackwell, 37, in the killing of Moore and the attempted murder of Jansen, Saunders said the defendant fired in a panic at the officers. Addressing a jury in Queens State Supreme Court, Saunders said that Blackwell shot because he feared Moore and Jansen were about to discover he had an unlicensed handgun and would be arrested.
One round struck Moore, 25, in the head, Saunders said. Another bullet fragmented on the door post of the police vehicle and hit Moore in the right side of his face while a third round fired at a ducking Jansen missed, the prosecutor said.
Blackwell escaped through the neighborhood, stealing a shirt and sneakers, then was seen on surveillance video sauntering down a driveway as if he were “a fashion model changing his clothes in a fashion shoot,” Saunders told jurors.
The opening day of the trial before Judge Gregory Lasak drew scores of police officers as well as Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch. Seated somberly in the courtroom were Moore’s father, Raymond, a retired NYPD sergeant, and his mother, Irene.
Saunders said crucial evidence expected to be presented would be the testimony of Jansen, who identified Blackwell as the man who fired at Moore. After police found the silver handgun, DNA evidence discovered on it linked Blackwell to the weapon, as well as unfired bullets found in the chamber, Saunders said.
Defense attorney David Bart in his opening statement said the killing of Moore was “a sad, sad thing that happened” but asked the jurors to put aside their emotions and decide the case on the evidence. Testimony is scheduled for Monday.
Bart said he planned to raise the issue of Blackwell’s mental health. The attorney said Blackwell suffered from epilepsy and had head surgery two years before the shooting. A doctor for the defense is expected to explain how those conditions affected Blackwell’s brain, said Bart, of Flushing, Queens.
Outside the courthouse, Lynch said Blackwell was a “cold-hearted killer.”
Moore was posthumously promoted to detective first grade.