Bond hearing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Suspect charged in police shooting

By Julian Helms

The Selma Times-Journal

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A bond hearing was held Monday afternoon for one of the suspects in Friday night’s shooting of a Selma police officer.

Roderick Prince appeared before Judge Tommy Jones in Civil District Court.

The state has 72 hours after an arrest is made to set a bond; Jones filled in for Judge Bob Armstrong who will conduct the remainder of the proceedings.

Prince, 23, is charged with eight counts of attempted murder.

Prince has no prior arrest record. About 20 family members, friends and members of the community attended the bond hearing in support of Prince.

“He doesn’t even stay in this neighborhood,” said one local. “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Prince was given a $250,000 bond on each of the eight counts for a total of a $2 million bond.

“Which I think is a little low,” prosecutor Shannon Lynch said. The case will be heard before Armstrong on Feb. 16, 2006.

Prince was present, charged and arrested with three other suspects on Friday night when an eight-man Selma police team descended on Henry Street.

Shots were exchanged between the police and residents, according to previous reports. Officer Michael Hardy was shot in the right forearm. He was treated at Vaughan Regional Medical Center and released about an hour later, Police Chief Jimmy Martin said in a previous article.

The scene was turned over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. All eight members of the police team were present at the bond hearing.

“The worst shooting that has ever happened here happened by the police,” Attorney Vaughn Russell said following the proceedings. Two attorneys were present on Prince’s behalf:

Russell, of McCormick & Russell, was contacted by the court to represent Prince, and Prince’s family has contacted Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettaway & Campbell to represent Prince.

The Selma Response Team (SRT), in existence for several months now to police high crime areas, journeyed through Selmont in an unmarked van and unmarked Crown Victoria, according to testimony at the hearing.

Detective Martin, when asked by Russell if he had seen any criminal activity at the location, answered that “we had documented evidence of shots being fired at the location in the past. It is a high crime area.”

Russell countered:

“I would say there is no neighborhood in Selma that is not a high crime area right now.”

“Was this just a general expedition at night, in an unmarked vehicle, with eight guys, to see what you could see?”

“To eliminate the threat,” Martin said.

At Gaines Avenue and Henry Street, Officer Webber said, “the first thing observed on Henry Street was a black male on the road beside a tree. We saw three individuals running and heard shots.”

Webber testified he “saw the flash of the muzzle from a 7.62 caliber weapon,” but stated that he could not identify Prince as the shooter.

Lynch cited the weapon as a SKS semi-automatic rifle.

Lynch asked the judge to “set the bond outside of the bond schedule because of the risk of harm to others” that the suspect posed.

“This is an extreme crime of violence. Identified police officers were opened fire on. He is a community risk beyond measure at this time and I have witnesses here willing to put Prince at the scene,” Lynch opened.

Prince, who was shot in the leg, was arrested along with: Alphonzo Henderson, 18; Marcus Jones, 24; and Tony Hall, 29.

All of the suspects are from Selma.

When asked where the gunshot wound on Prince’s leg originated from, Webber said, “I have no idea.”

Chief Martin has previously stated that one of the suspects had been shot.

Russell confirmed that police were unmarked, it was a dark night, and that no one could identify Prince as a shooter.

A neighbor stated she was “turning in my yard when I saw the van coming. When it stopped, the doors opened and they started shooting like they came to kill somebody. Nobody said Police! Freeze! … nothing.”