Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of an off-duty New Jersey police officer accused of murdering a Lansdowne man following a road-rage incident last summer in Anne Arundel County
During the final day of testimony in Circuit Court on Monday, two law enforcement experts offered opposite opinions as to whether Joseph Lamont Walker, 41, acted reasonably in shooting Joseph Dale Harvey Jr., 36, on the side of Route 3 near Interstate 97 in Millersville on June 8, 2013.
Emanuel Kapelsohn, a Pennsylvania-based police training consultant hired by Walker's defense team, said Walker used proper tactics when he ordered Harvey to stop, then showed his gun before he fired. Walker, who is charged with first-degree murder, is a detective with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting, driving through the area with his wife and children.
"He has to act to defend himself and his family," Kapelsohn said.
Sgt. William Gleason, a police academy instructor for the Prince George's County Police Department, said Walker made poor choices and had options other than shooting Harvey, such as getting back in his minivan and driving away, or backing off and calling 911.
"You don't have to get involved in everything... Let uniformed officers handle it," said Gleason, who testified for the prosecution.
Assistant State's Attorney Michael Dunty has alleged that Walker's van drifted into Harvey's lane, spurring a road-rage encounter that included Harvey yelling and swerving at Walker. Eventually both cars pulled over onto the shoulder and Harvey and a passenger in his vehicle walked toward Walker.
Over the past week, Dunty presented witnesses who said Harvey stopped before Walker shot him.
Walker's attorneys have made a case for self-defense, saying Harvey charged toward Walker, who feared for the safety of himself and his family. Walker testified he showed his badge and identified himself as a police officer, though other witnesses said they never saw a badge.
After closing arguments Tuesday, Judge Michael Wachs is expected to hand the case to the jury to begin deliberations.