A judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a charge of attempted first-degree murder against a Longmont man accused of firing four rounds at a police officer before being shot himself by the officer.
An attorney for Brandon Duke, 22, argued during a preliminary hearing that her client was paranoid and thought someone wanted to kill him the morning of May 8, when Longmont officer David Blake tried to detain him downtown on an outstanding misdemeanor assault warrant.
Defense attorney Julia Lee said Duke took off running and fired his .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun haphazardly. He didn’t take a stance and aim at Blake, she said, and his actions weren’t premeditated.
Blake was not struck during the incident.
“He’s running and shooting wildly,” Lee said.
She argued that attempted manslaughter and first-degree assault are more appropriate charges in the case.
But prosecutor Catrina Weigel countered that Duke was clearly firing in Blake’s direction and that just because he didn’t stop to take aim at the officer didn’t mean he wasn’t trying to kill him.
“His deliberation was shown by his acts,” she said.
Boulder County Judge Noel Blum agreed with the prosecution and said Duke’s case can move forward on the count of attempted first-degree murder, as well as a slew of other charges — including felony menacing, carrying a concealed weapon and first-degree assault.
Duke is scheduled to enter a plea in the case Aug. 20.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Longmont police detective Stacey Graham testified that Blake tried to stop Duke on Main Street at about 8 a.m. May 8, and Duke dropped to his knees as ordered. She said police had had several run-ins with Duke over the last several months and knew who he was.
After asking Blake why he was stopped, Duke got up and ran away, Graham said. Blake unsuccessfully shot at him with a Taser, then saw Duke take out a gun.
“Officer Blake still had the Taser in his hands when he saw the gun come up,” she testified.
Graham said Duke started firing at Blake, who fired back, hitting Duke in the arm and torso and grazing his head. The officer fired a total of seven shots, she testified.
“He’s in extreme fear for his life,” the detective said of Blake’s state of mind.
The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office concluded that Blake was justified in shooting Duke.
Longmont police officer Brian Smith testified that when he got to the scene, he saw Blake pointing his gun at Duke, who was lying on the ground. He said Duke attempted to reach for a gun that was on the ground nearby.
“He kept dropping his hand toward the gun,” Smith testified.
The prosecution argued that Duke, in recorded phone calls from jail before the May 8 shooting, had told his grandmother that he would have “popped off rounds” at a Longmont detective he didn’t like.
Weigel said Duke has previously been arrested for trying to take a gun from a police officer in South Carolina.
Judge Blum said the evidence pointed to the fact that Duke had a “history of enmity toward officers generally.”