Use Code BALT69 for a $69 Ticket to One Day University on July 9

Cagle trial: Jury returns not-guilty verdict on one charge but told to resume deliberations

Jury asked to continue deliberations in trial of Baltimore Police officer accused of attempted murder in shoot

Jurors told a judge Wednesday that they unanimously agreed to acquit a Baltimore police officer on one charge in the shooting of an unarmed burglary suspect at a city corner store.

But the judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating when it became clear they had not reached a unanimous decision on at least one other charge against Officer Wesley Cagle.

Cagle is accused of shooting a burglary suspect, Michael Johansen, in the groin in 2014. Prosecutors said Johansen, who had already been shot by two other officers, didn't pose any threat to Cagle.

On the stand in his own defense, Cagle testified that he felt in danger when he saw a "shiny silver object" on Johansen that he thought could have been a weapon. Cagle, 46, is the first city officer to be charged in an on-duty shooting since 2008.

Jurors had deliberated for more than seven hours over two days when they returned to the courtroom shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday and announced they had a verdict.

Cagle sat with his lawyers at the defense table, his family members seated behind him, as jurors told the courtroom they had found him not guilty of attempted first-degree murder.

But when a clerk asked how they had decided on the second charge of attempted second-degree murder, the foreman replied, "Hung jury."

Circuit Judge Wanda Keyes Heard intervened and told jurors they can't declare a hung jury — only a judge can do that.

"You may not understand legal procedure," Heard said. "You cannot just go and do whatever you want."

Heard told the jurors they can't decide on their own when to end deliberations and that the law governs when a judge can declare a mistrial. She then sent the panel back to continue their discussions.

It is not clear where the jury stood on the other charges against Cagle — first-degree assault and a handgun charge. The deliberations are scheduled to resume Thursday morning.

Johansen wasn't present when the jury read the partial verdict.

Jurors heard testimony from witnesses over five days and began to deliberate on Tuesday.

"Seven and a half hours is not very long for a deliberation in this case," Heard said to attorneys after jurors left the courtroom Wednesday.

Jurors had asked several questions, including what would happen if they could not agree on a charge. Heard told them to follow the jury instructions they had been given. In a separate exchange, she expressed concern to the lawyers in the case that they weren't following those instructions.

Prosecutors allege that Cagle shot Johansen, 47, after he had been shot by two other officers in the 3000 block of E. Monument St. in December 2014. In closing arguments, a prosecutor called Cagle "a bully" and said he didn't need to shoot Johansen, who didn't have a gun.

Johansen was lying in the doorway of the corner store that he burglarized when Cagle shot him, according to prosecutors. Johansen has pleaded guilty in the burglary case and expects to be sentenced in the coming weeks.

Cagle testified he believed Johansen could have been armed, and that another officer told him the suspect had a gun.

"He could've shot me," Cagle testified, describing what he was thinking.

The police officer's defense team argued that Cagle acted reasonably in the situation. They also contend the prosecution never proved that Cagle's bullet struck Johansen.

Cagle, a 15-year-veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, is suspended without pay.

The two other officers who fired at Johansen have been cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting and testified for the prosecution.

In the last case against a city officer in connection with an on-duty shooting, a jury acquitted Officer Tommy Sanders III in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
81°