Man on trial for aiming rifle at police officer
Accused of aiming a loaded SKS assault rifle at a Charles County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Team officer during a December 2014 raid, a Brandywine man is on trial this week to contest the allegations of first-, second-degree assault and multiple illegal firearm possession charges.
When two tactical teams of officers outfitted with automatic weapons and heavy body armor executed a no-knock search warrant on his Brandywine home, Maurice Deshonte Mackall, 38, allegedly pointed the gun at the veteran pointman, Lt. Ben Voorhaar, as he rounded the corner.
On Dec. 23, 2014, it was Voorhaar’s last raid with the Emergency Services Team (EST), and to honor his 15-year stint, he was the first man to enter the home, Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathan Beattie told jurors. The warrant was issued after police received a photograph allegedly depicting Mackall holding an assault rifle, according to court proceedings.
Having a disqualifying conviction on his record, Mackall is forbidden to possess any firearms, Beattie said.
When the police convoy arrived at Mackall’s resident at 3550 Lindsey Place around 6 a.m., a man on the porch started running, court proceedings revealed. Two officers chased him, but he was not caught.
As the entry-team cleared the house, repeatedly shouting verbal commands to numerous complicit occupants, the perimeter-team threw flash bangs outside to distract anyone who might be dangerous inside, while watching the windows for potential threats.
Voorhaar led the team downstairs and toward an open door to his left, “turning into the unknown,” Beattie continued.
In the room, “he sees a man standing there …. with a weapon drawn to his shoulder,” he said.
Voorhaar quickly jumped back, knocking into the stack of officers behind him, and yelled, “Gun, gun, gun, gun, gun,” officers testified.
“He expects …. bullets [to start] chewing up that wall,” Beattie said. “A moment passes, nothing happens.”
After no bullets were fired, Voorhaar peeked around the corner a few times and saw Mackall laying face down on the floor, surrendering, and the SKS rifle underneath a coffee table, and a shotgun behind the door, according to proceedings.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Cawood told jurors in her opening statement that “the state is not telling you the whole story,” adding that the owner of the guns may never be known, as there were 13 people in the house at the time.
“Mackall did not point a gun at anybody,” she said. “[He] does absolutely no such thing. He was afraid someone was going to shoot him.”
“Mr. Mackall was asleep … [at] his family home in Brandywine,” Cawood continued. “It’s dark and it’s early in the morning. … He was very cooperative with police. He was truthful.”
The prosecution called upon expert witness Steve Weitz, a forensic scientist with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, to testify about the DNA recovered from the SKS rifle.
According to his testimony, at least two DNA profiles were present when testing the grip, trigger, and slide of the rifle, but the major contributor belonged to an unknown female, and the minor contributor could not be determined, though test results indicated it belonged to a male.
Weitz explained that there were many factors that would impact the presence of “touch-DNA,” and ultimately concluded that the test results were inconclusive.
The trial is ongoing as of press time on Tuesday.