Video evidence of the Oct. 1 shooting on Massachusetts Street was introduced during the third continuance of its evidentiary hearing on Thursday morning.
With Judge Sally Pokorny presiding, Ahmad Rayton, Anthony Roberts Jr. and Dominique McMillon all appeared in person with their attorneys: Michael Clarke, Jennifer Chaffee and J.C. Gilroy, respectively. The men face charges ranging from aggravated assault to first-degree murder, with Roberts facing the most severe charges of first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson and assistant district attorney David Melton called their only witness of the day, Detective Dean Brown, who does “forensic video analysis” and has worked in the Lawrence Police Department for 21 years.
The detective started his testimony with six pieces of video evidence and how they obtained it.
“We canvassed the area generally, looking at external parts of the building,” Brown said.
The videos was recovered from Vermont Towers, the community center, two officers’ dashboard cameras and a traffic light at 11th and Massachusetts streets.
Three officers with the Lawrence Police Department testified Friday about the chaos that ensued after five people were shot on Massachusetts Street on Oct. 1.
Brown explained how the footage of the shooting from officer Michael McLaren’s dashcam parked across the street was his starting point and how he followed the figures in the original video through area surveillance cameras.
With multiple objections from the defense, Brown narrated the footage and testified on how he linked certain recognizable characteristics of figures from dash am video and other footage with a traffic stop from later in the night.
In the traffic stop footage from Officer Ian McCann’s dashcam, Ahmad Rayton, Dominique McMillon and Anthony Roberts Jr. were all identified when they were pulled out of the car, as well as a friend they were with, who the Kansan will not identify. Officers from the stop testified on Jan. 19, the second day of the hearing, that a nine-millimeter handgun was cleared from the vehicle during the stop.
The four men’s clothing was the main connection between them and the shooting, according to Brown's testimony. One man wearing a light blue top with a black stripe was seen at the shooting, which was similar to what McMillon was wearing during the traffic stop. A man in a dark blue shirt and light pants, and a man in a light belt with dark pants was also seen in the footage from the shooting, similar to Roberts’ and Rayton’s respective outfits when they were stopped.
In the footage of Massachusetts Street, these last two figures were moving like shooters would have been expected to, Brown testified.
The vehicle from the car stop was also linked to a dark vehicle that arrived at the same time as a light SUV shortly before the shooting and then left immediately after the shooting. The car from the traffic stop was a dark Kia Sportage with a broken passenger tail light and a “crooked” license plate, which Brown pointed out had similar characteristics to the vehicle from footage recovered from the community center across the street from where the shooting occurred.
“I can’t exclude it as the vehicle that is eventually stopped by Officer McCann,” Brown said.
The city announced goals to improve public safety four months ago following a deadly downtown shooting. Now those measures are starting to be introduced.
The defense attorneys objected to the testimony, saying the detective’s narration of the video could be misleading, given that he was describing details of figures the defense couldn’t see. The attorneys said Brown was testifying on what we should be seeing, instead of what was there.
“If it’s not visible, it’s not visible and we shouldn’t need a witness to tell us what we should be seeing,” Chaffee said.
At one point, Clarke said the testimony could potentially be “hearsay.”
Melton said they could clearly see the characteristics Brown was describing, the dark vertical stripe on the back of McMillon’s shirt in particular, and that Brown was giving expert testimony.
“We’re not making this up,” he said.
Ultimately, the objections were overruled by Pokorny and all of the videos were admitted into evidence.
Brown went on to show detailed analysis of the shooting, including where four of the five victims were at the time and how they were identified. Tremel Dean and Leah Brown could be seen falling to the ground and Colwin Henderson could be seen running off screen. The positions of these three fatally injured victims were all explained during testimony from the same Jan. 19 hearing.
Cross examination of Brown will continue Friday at 1 p.m.