CHARLOTTESVILLE — The prosecution and defense rested Tuesday in the trial Timothy Lamont Miles, 29, two days into a scheduled three-day trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court.
Miles is charged with attempted capital murder in the shooting of Charlottesville Police Cpl. Chris Huber in a home on Hardy Drive on the evening of Sept. 8, 2018. The officer was struck in his protective vest and was largely unharmed, but shot Miles twice, once in the abdomen and again in the pelvis.
In addition to attempted capital murder, Miles is charged with being a felon in possession of a gun and six counts of malicious shooting in an occupied dwelling. The defense and prosecution’s arguments diverged around Miles’ intent, but not the basic facts of the case.
The prosecution has argued that Miles shot Huber with the intent to kill him, while the defense argued that Miles was hiding from people who wanted to kill him and unintentionally shot the officer.
On Monday, several city police officers, including Huber, testified that they responded to a call for service after several shots were fired near a home on Hardy Drive. After searching the area for over an hour, officers located seven shell casings.
Aware that there had been talk of Miles discharging a gun in the area, Huber said he knocked on the door of an apartment someone told him Miles in. After being let into the apartment, he attempted to arrest Miles on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on an unrelated shoplifting charge. Miles, seated at the kitchen table, did not initially respond when Huber called his name.
“I told him to get on the ground at least twice, but he did not respond and I noticed he had stood up and bladed his stance, like he was hiding a weapon behind his right side,” Huber testified Monday. “He took a step toward me, and concerned he might have a weapon, I pulled my gun and again asked him to get on the ground.”
Huber said Miles then took a swig of a bottle of vodka in front of him, at which point Huber said he noticed the defendant reaching toward his waistband. Though he said he could not be sure who shot first, Huber said a volley of gunfire followed leaving him grazed and Miles shot and laid out in the kitchen.
Other officers present that night testified to similar effect, helping corroborate evidence of the events that led up to the shooting. Altogether, six bullets were fired from Miles’ gun and five bullets were fired by Huber, two of which struck the defendant. All were recovered from the scene of the incident.
On Tuesday, the defense called Miles to the stand. Visibly distraught during part of his testimony, Miles told a different account of the events.
Miles said that leading up to that night, a man had been trying to kill him and so he had stolen the firearm to protect himself. The night of the incident, Miles said, he was at a party when the man who was trying to kill him showed up. After firing the gun into the air several times in an effort to scare off his pursuer, Miles said he ran back into his friend’s apartment to hide.
Though five officers arrived at the scene not long after those first shots were fired, Miles claimed he was unaware of the police presence outside the apartment and so when Huber entered he initially thought it was someone trying to kill him.
After recognizing Huber, Miles said he turned his body away from the officer in an attempt to hide the weapon long enough to stash it in his waistband.
“I tried to hide the gun because I knew that, as a black man, if I was seen with a gun by a police officer I would end up shot,” he said. “So I kept asking ‘For what?’ when he told me to get on the ground so I could buy myself some time.”
It was while he was attempting to hide the gun that Miles said he was shot by Huber. He said he did not remember firing the gun six times and insisted during cross-examination that he had no intent to kill or harm Huber.
“I remember feeling the impact,” Miles said of being shot. “It was like a punch; I knew I had been shot. Then I felt another punch and I started falling backward.”
While falling, Miles said he tried to catch himself but could not move. He laid there on the ground as Huber yelled at him to throw the gun away so the officers could get to him safely and get him treatment.
In CPD body camera footage, Huber, outside of Miles’ range of view, can be heard pleading with the defendant to push the gun away. Officers were later able to enter the kitchen with shields and get Miles to an ambulance.
Further complicating the case, after being transported Miles’ blood alcohol concentration was determined to be between 0.21% and 0.23%, high enough to impair his judgement, according to a forensic toxilogicology expert called by the defense.
Though testimony wrapped up Tuesday evening, the jury will hear closing arguments on Wednesday morning.
For the attempted murder charge alone, Miles faces 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100.