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Dockery v. United States

February 10, 2000

JEROME D. DOCKERY, APPELLANT,
V.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Before Schwelb and Reid, Associate Judges, and Kern, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb, Associate Judge

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

(Hon. Gregory E. Mize, Trial Judge)

Submitted January 18, 2000

Jerome D. Dockery was convicted by a jury of carrying a pistol without a license (CPWOL), D.C. Code § 22-3204 (a) (1996), and of two other weapons offenses. *fn1 On appeal, he contends that the trial judge erred by excluding allegedly exculpatory hospital records. We agree and reverse.

I. THE FACTS

A. The case for the prosecution.

At Dockery's trial, Officer Chevelle Tilghman of the Metropolitan Police Department testified that at approximately midnight on the night of August 22-23, 1997, she observed a Ford Tempo run a red light at an intersection in northeast Washington, D.C. Officer Tilghman activated her emergency lights and sirens, but the driver of the Ford did not pull over. Instead, he sped away.

Officer Tilghman related that she deactivated the emergency equipment and followed the Ford Tempo. As she did so, she saw a right hand and forearm appear out of the window on the passenger side. As the hand came into view, an object flew out of its grasp. The officer was unable to discern what the discarded item was, but she suspected that it might be a handgun. According to Officer Tilghman, the driver of the Ford did not lean to the right at the time the object was discarded. Officer Tilghman therefore believed that it was the passenger, and not the driver, who had thrown the object out of the window.

Almost immediately after Officer Tilghman observed the throwing motion, the fleeing vehicle struck a parked car and a truck. The driver made a quick exit from the vehicle and managed to avoid capture by running off into a wooded area. The passenger, who had struck his head against the windshield during the collision, was immediately apprehended by the police. He was identified as Jerome D. Dockery, the appellant in this case. After detaining Dockery, police officers found a loaded pistol in the street some twenty to twenty-five feet from the location where the Ford had struck the first parked car.

On cross-examination, Officer Tilghman insisted that she had a clear view of the hand from which the pistol was discarded:

Q. . . . . When you saw the hand and when you saw the motion of the hand, did you see something in that hand?

A. I just saw the hand go out the window.

Q. And you clearly saw that hand at that ...


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