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Woodruff Testifies

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By Mary Shelton

Inside a courtroom which was standing room only, Steve Woodruff testified that he did not fire the shots that killed Riverside Police Department detective Doug Jacobs.

“If it was my bullet that killed that officer, then kill me,” he said, “I’ll stand by that today.”
Over 30 police officers, prosecutors and relatives of Jacobs listened as Woodruff described the events which led to the fatal shooting.

On Jan. 13, 2001, when officer Ben Baker arrived at his door, Woodruff knew it was about the radio, he said, because police had come out before. When his daughter Breanna began to run up to the officer, Woodruff told her not to, because the officer was there for a reason and to go back inside.

He then called his brother, John Woodruff, to tell him to come over and help him with his mother, Parthenia Carr. He also testified that he had known Tyisha Miller’s mother and that he had felt that Miller’s killing by four former officers in 1998 was murder.

“The way they felt for Blacks, they had no regard for them. No respect,” he said.
He went to get his gun, he said, and placed it on the television set by the door.

Woodruff said he listened for a while until he saw a second officer run up to the stairwell. He said he heard one officer ask to wait for a supervisor and the other say, I’m not waiting on no one. That did not sound right to him, he said.

Then he said he heard his mother say the officers were violating her constitutional rights, then that they were hurting her. Soon after, she screamed, he said, worse than she ever had before.

“When I heard her screams,” he said, “chills went all over my body.”

That is when he said he loaded the bullet into the chamber of his gun.

Woodruff then ran out on the porch and placed the gun on the rail. He said he shouted, what are you doing, then saw Baker reaching for his gun. Woodruff said he leaned over the rail and fired one shot over Baker’s head. Baker fell towards the wall, then fired his gun several times. Woodruff said he shot his gun again, because he was in fear for his life.

“It was either his life or mine,” he said.
He then went into the pantry to get his rifle, and tried to load it because he expected the officers to come after him, but the bullet jammed.

“If they had come out at me, we would have had a battle,” he said.

Instead, he told police that he was surrendering. He removed his clothing so that officers could not say he was armed, opened the door and slid his gun out the door. He then crawled on the ground to where he was handcuffed by officers.

John Woodruff testified that he had finished grocery shopping with his family when he received his brother’s phone call that police officers were harassing their mother and he was worried about his DUI warrant. He drove to the house where he saw a lot of police cars. He saw his brother come out of the house, naked and when John asked an officer what was happening, he said the officer pushed him down on the ground next to his mother and his brother, Claude Carr and told him to shut up.

Later, he said police detained him and his family at the General Investigations Bureau, to be interviewed.

“They wouldn’t let me leave,” he said, “They wouldn’t let my son or wife leave.”

Neighbor Stella Alvarez testified that she had seen two officers walk with Holly Menzies, and then after Menzies ran down the stairs quickly, she heard someone yell, leave my mother alone. Soon after, she heard three shots. She then heard someone yell to someone, my partner was shot, and an officer walking down the stairs. Then, she saw more officers arrive and Woodruff being arrested.

“My God, somebody shot somebody,” she had told her husband at the time, she said.
Medical Examiner Mark Farnado, M.D. testified that Jacobs died from a single gunshot that entered the left side of his nose, and severely damaged his brain stem. Death was instantaneous, Farnado said, adding that it was unlikely that Jacobs could have moved or said anything after he was shot.
Blankenship showed photographs of Jacobs’ tattoos.

On his right arm, Jacobs had a tattoo of Yosemite Sam and on his left, a tattoo of a Celtic band, with the number “193” beneath it. Once the tattoos were shown, Soccio called up Jacobs’ wife, Tamera to the stand to ask her about the band. She testified that the number represented her dispatcher ID number when she had worked with the department. When Blankenship asked her about the Yosemite Sam, she answered that her husband had wanted to get that tattoo since he was young.

He loved being a police officer so he really wanted one of Yosemite Sam, she said.
Tensions continued to run high in the courtroom.

At one point, Thierbach nearly lost his temper during the proceedings and issued warnings to both attorneys.

“You’re both skating on thin ice here,” he said, looking at Blankenship, then turned and said to Soccio, “you too.”

Earlier in the week, Thierbach removed a White female juror, saying that based on an investigation which had been conducted, it would be inappropriate for her to continue to serve on the jury.

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