- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) - A Pike County deputy unnecessarily fired nine times through the windows of an unarmed driver’s stopped vehicle at the end of a high-speed chase on country roads and hit the man seven times, a prosecutor told jurors as the former officer’s murder trial got underway in southern Ohio.

A defense attorney told the jury that former deputy Joel Jenkins feared for his life and was justified in firing at the driver, who had sped away from a traffic stop and tried to ram law enforcement vehicles before the March 2015 shooting.

Jurors were driven along the path of the pursuit Tuesday before they heard opening arguments in the first of two cases over fatal shootings by Jenkins. The jury may hear testimony from Jenkins himself later in the trial, which is expected to take days.

No trial has been scheduled in the second shooting. The 32-year-old has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in that case, which involves what Jenkins says was the accidental, off-duty shooting of a neighbor to whom he was showing a gun when it fired.

Prosecutors say the driver killed in the murder case, 26-year-old Robert Rooker, also wasn’t a threat when he was shot the night of March 28, 2015. Rooker’s Ford Ranger was pinned against a tree, facing Rooker’s cruiser, and he no longer posed a danger, said Daniel Breyer, a senior assistant attorney general prosecuting the case.

Defense attorney Kaitlyn Stephens said Jenkins had ordered Rooker to show his hands, then saw him reach down and his arm come back up, prompting the deputy to fire.

Stephens and attorney Mark Collins told jurors they must look at what happened through the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene and consider whether the shooting was justified in that context.


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