Wounded Ohio cop: 'I just felt pain'

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Related: 2 Ohio officers shot, driver of car dead following traffic stop

HAMILTON, Ohio A West Chester Township police officer who was wounded in a March shootout testified that the car carrying three suspects was traveling "at just an incredible, astounding speed" after the first officer was shot.

Officer Jeff Duma, who was shot in the hand and shoulder, testified today in the trial of Bruce Suggs Jr. in Butler County Common Pleas Court that he never heard the shots that struck him.

"I just felt the pain," said Duma, a police officer for 31 years.
Suggs, 24, of Mason, is not accused of firing at police. But he faces decades in prison if convicted of five felonies relating to the shootout that left Duma and Sgt. Matt Beiser wounded and gunman Matthew Hutchinson, 23, of Mason, dead by his own gunfire.

A jury of nine women and three men has been hearing testimony since Monday in Suggs' trial.

On the night of March 9, Duma said, he was working an off-duty security detail at the Streets of West Chester shopping and entertainment area when he heard radio reports about a traffic stop that went awry, leaving Beiser wounded.

Duma, who was in uniform, joined the pursuit of the suspects' car, driven by John W. Brochu, 24, of Deerfield Township, with passengers Suggs and Hutchinson.

"I had my car floored. I was trying to go as fast as I possibly could. I was not catching up," Duma said, as the pursuit headed south on Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

When Brochu's Audi car crashed off Crescentville Road in Sharonville, Duma said he approached the vehicle with his gun drawn.

From radio broadcasts, Duma knew there were three people in the car. Hutchinson ran. Brochu stayed in the car. And Duma couldn't see Suggs at first.

He spotted Suggs lying on the ground, "even with the back passenger door, probably about six to eight steps away from the car."

He walked up to Suggs and ordered him to show his hands and to stay down. Duma commanded Suggs to roll over but saw Suggs was unable to do so. Suggs had suffered a broken ankle in the crash or its aftermath. The ankle injuy was so severe, Suggs is still using crutches to enter and leave the courtroom.

Duma said he had seen Hutchinson run from the car, so Duma started searching for him.

In the darkness, Duma heard about three shots. He didn't hear the two shots that hit him. The first shot grazed and burned Duma's left hand.

“I continued on ... I brought my hand up ... heading toward the direction that that round was fired," Duma said. "The next thing I know, I was hit in the upper right shoulder with one round ... Through training, or determination or whatever, I knew I was not going to be a casualty."

Duma returned fire and tried to get his gun to switch hands, but couldn't. The officer fell on top of his gun to prevent Hutchinson from getting it.

"I didn’t want him to have my gun," Duma said.

Officers helped pull Duma to safety and later found Hutchinson's body beneath a trailer, shot fatally. The Hamilton County Coroner's Office has ruled his death a suicide.

Suggs is charged with two counts of complicity to felonious assault, alleging he aided Hutchinson. Suggs also is accused of carrying a concealed weapon, improper handling of a firearm and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors say he possessed a gun and threw it away at the crash scene, attempting to stop officers from using it as evidence.

Although Judge Craig Hedric set aside five days for Suggs' trial, which began Monday, lawyers in the case think the trial might conclude Wednesday or Thursday.

Brochu is set for trial Aug. 27 on similar charges.

Both men are being held in the Butler County Jail on $1 million.

Copyright 2007 The Enquirer

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