Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - After five and a half weeks of testimony, the first defendant in the Danziger police shooting case took the witness stand.
Former Officer Robert Faulcon testified that in a split second he saw a handgun and fired his weapon at civilians on the bridge.
It is not clear how many of the other four defendants will take the witness stand, but Faulcon’s attorney promised his client would testify in his own defense and that’s exactly what he did Wednesday.
Faulcon is accused of firing the fatal shots that killed 40-year-old Ronald Madison on the Danziger Bridge.
The government claims he shot the mentally challenged civilian in the back with a shotgun blast.
Wednesday morning he told the jury about being in the back of a Budget rental truck on his way to the Danziger Bridge. He said officers were answering a 108 call of shots fired, officer down and multiple armed subjects.
“We knew we were going into a bad situation. I expected to be shot at. I expected the worst,” Faulcon said.
Faulcon also testified he heard shots on the bridge, jumped out of the truck and yelled, “Police.”
“I saw guns in that split second. Out of my peripheral vision I saw officers in a defensive position, they were shooting. That’s when I shot my gun,” Faulcon said. “I feel horrible because in that split second, I may have been right or wrong. If I would have known those people didn’t have weapons, I wouldn’t have fired my weapon.”
“He stuck to his story," said Eyewitness News legal analyst and former prosecutor Chick Foret. "He said, 'I felt like my life was in danger, I felt the life of the state trooper I was with was in danger and that’s why I fired on Ronald Madison.'"
“You agree that you shot an innocent man?” asked prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein.
“I felt he was a threat. I felt my life was in danger,” Faulcon responded.
“Do you agree you may not shoot someone simply because you suspect they are armed?” Bernstein asked.
“It’s hard to say yes. It’s hard to say no. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances,” Faulcon said.
Foret said, “The problem is he thought he saw guns, he says he saw guns, but no guns were ever found."
Faulcon left the NOPD and New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina.
When asked if he was aware fellow officers were trying to cover up the shootings, Faulcon answered, “I had no idea; I didn’t even see the report.”