- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Manchester police officer Dan Doherty says it’s ludicrous to doubt the reliability of his identification of the man who fired seven shots into his body at near point-blank range.

“I looked right at him while he was shooting me,” Doherty said Thursday, after listening to arguments before the state Supreme Court in the appeal of Myles Webster, who was convicted of attempting to murder Doherty as he closed in on him during a foot chase on March 21, 2012.

“I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever forget,” Doherty said. “I’m 100 percent confident.”

Webster’s attorney, David Rothstein, argued that the release of Webster’s booking photo five hours before his arraignment tainted eyewitness identifications. He said the photo may have indelibly influenced witnesses’ identifications, especially witnesses who had not yet been interviewed by police.

“It’s serious business,” Rothstein told the justices. “This could have been a capital murder charge. Dan Doherty’s life was still hanging in the balance.”

Webster’s defense at trial was mistaken identity. He is serving 60 years to life in prison.

The justices questioned Rothstein on topics ranging from the public’s right to know to the deference they should give to the lower court’s ruling. They also pointed out that Webster’s arraignment was open to the media and generated still photos and video.

Assistant Attorney General Stacey Pawlik argued that the lower court ruled that all the eyewitness identifications of Webster were independently reliable. She said the witnesses were cross-examined extensively about the reliability of their identifications of Webster.

Pawlik also argued that any error by the trial court was rendered harmless by the sheer volume of evidence that Webster was the shooter, including surveillance video that showed what he was wearing that night and witness identification of the gun that was linked to Webster.

She emphasized that a majority of the witnesses said Webster looked different in the mug shot than he did when they saw him fleeing the crime scene. She said Webster’s long, thick hair had been pulled back into a ponytail at the time of the shooting and the early stages of his flight. The ponytail came out the more he ran, and the booking photo portrays him with his hair down.

She also told the justices that a woman who was with Webster in the hours before the shooting told police that Webster was agitated and emotional and had stated he would “take out a cop” if one attempted to arrest him.

Doherty returned to work nearly a year after the shooting, following multiple surgeries. He was the first uniformed officer to respond to a plainclothes officer’s request for assistance to apprehend a man who was acting agitated and was yelling at drivers.

The justices did not indicate when they would rule.

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