- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A St. Louis man was convicted of shooting a police officer in an attack that left the lawman paralyzed from the waist down.

Brian Lamont Cannon Jr., 22, was convicted Thursday of first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, two counts of burglary, car theft and other felonies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/O1q3Fd ).

Michael Vernon, then a Florissant police officer, testified that he was searching an alley for a burglar on the night of May 28, 2012, when a gunman popped out of a trash bin and opened fire, shooting him three times. One bullet lodged in his spine.

“I can still see the muzzle blast,” Vernon said as his former colleagues looked on from the courtroom gallery. “It felt like an eternity falling backward. When I hit the ground, I couldn’t move.”

Cannon testified that he was on a crime spree that night and that he didn’t know he was shooting at a police officer.

“I was already scared. I just fired,” Cannon said. “I really didn’t have time to think it was a police officer.”

He will be sentenced April 11.

Vernon testified that he has no movement or feeling from the waist down.

“Permanent,” Vernon said matter-of-factly before turning to the jury and joking, “Unless someone knows of a cure.”

Vernon told a reporter after the court session that he and his wife, a doctor, have moved to Tennessee to be closer to her family and for her to take a new job in a medical practice. They are expecting a baby. He is taking psychology classes online.

Vernon worked in Florissant for five years and after spending eight years as a military police officer in the Army, including one year in Iraq.

He said he often thinks about Cannon and the shooting.

“I do my best to suppress it in my mind,” he said, “and I try to think of something else, like Disneyland. That’s my way of counseling.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com


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