PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two brothers charged with killing a Philadelphia police officer during a shootout inside a video game store each struck the officer with a potentially lethal shot, prosecutors said Wednesday as the suspects waived their preliminary hearing.
Ex-convict Carlton Hipps, 29, and half brother Ramone Williams, 25, together fired six bullets that struck Officer Robert Wilson moments after announcing a robbery.
Wilson, a 30-year-old father of two, had stopped in the Game Stop on March 5 to buy a gift for his older son’s upcoming 10th birthday. His partner was in their cruiser.
Wilson fired back in the two-against-one gunfight as the store manager and six others ducked behind the counter. The gunmen took cover behind a support column. Wilson was caught in the open.
Hipps remained on crutches Wednesday from a gunshot wound he sustained when he tried to run and was shot by Wilson’s partner, prosecutors said. It’s not clear how many shots Wilson managed to fire, but ballistic evidence shows that at least 37 shots were fired inside the small store.
Wilson was shot six times, including a deadly shot through his right eye alleged to have come from a .40-caliber Ruger fired by Williams, and another potentially lethal shot to the back fired from a Glock that police link to Hipps.
“While seven civilians crouched behind the counter, fearing for their lives, Officer Wilson was able to get off several rounds (before collapsing),” Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo told the courtroom, which was overflowing with the slain officer’s comrades and family members.
He said that Williams dropped his gun by the counter, stripped down to a different shirt and told the store manager and customers: “Say I’m with you! Say I’m with you!”
They instead pointed him out to police who arrived on the scene, alerted by a call from Wilson’s partner, Damien Stevenson.
After viewing store surveillance video, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he had never seen anything like the courage shown by his officer. He has since named an award for valor after Wilson, whom he had briefly met a few months earlier through a pilot program involving police body cameras.
Police later found an AK47 in a search of the brothers’ home, Zarallo said. They were held for trial Wednesday on charges that include murder, gun offenses and armed robbery, and are due back in court on June 10 to be arraigned.
Williams immediately admitted his role in the fatal robbery and expressed remorse, his lawyer said.
“It didn’t make sense to put the (Wilson) family through this hearing. They would have seen horrible evidence,” said his lawyer, Andres Jalon, explaining the decision to waive the preliminary hearing, which had been expected to include the viewing of portions of the shootout.
“My client … just wants to do what he can to … ameliorate some of the wrong that he’s done,” Jalon said.
He and lawyer Michael Coard, representing Hipps, said they hope to develop mitigating evidence to help their clients avoid a potential death sentence.