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Ft. Hood suspect kicked gun from officer's hand

Aug. 16, 2013 - 05:02PM   |  
Nidal Malik Hasan, Steve Henricks, Col. Tara Osbor
(Brigitte Woosley / AP)
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FORT HOOD, TEXAS — With the gunman standing over her, Fort Hood police officer Kimberly Munley tried to fire her weapon as she lay bleeding on the ground. Nothing happened.

The shooter then kicked the gun from her hand. But then the shooter’s gun malfunctioned and he stumbled back as one of Munley’s fellow officers yelled, “Drop your weapon.” The officer fired, and the gunman fell.

Munley recalled those seconds while testifying Friday at the military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people that day at the Texas military base in November 2009. The Army psychiatrist also is accused of wounding more than 30 others in the worst mass shooting ever on the U.S. military base.

When asked if the man who tried to kill her was in the courtroom, Munley — who was shot three times — pointed to Hasan.

Munley told jurors that she quickly spotted someone in Army clothing with a gun after arriving at the scene, a medical building on the Army post that had been crowded with soldiers preparing to deploy. She then heard her colleague, Sgt. Mark Todd, order the man to drop his weapon.

Munley said she saw a red laser flash across her eyes, and she began shooting. She said the gunman was running and firing in her direction, so she took cover behind a building.

“I realized he was not slowing down whatsoever,” she testified. “He rounded the corner and within eight feet or so, we blindly began to exchange fire.”

“When I fell to the ground, the shooter was closer to me,” she said. “I tried to continue to fire. My weapon would not fire. Some sort of malfunction in my weapon. I see him standing over me, trying to shoot me.”

She said Hasan then kicked the weapon out of her hand. She crawled, trying to regain her gun, as Hasan was trying to fix his weapon when she heard Todd again yell at the gunman. Todd then fired his gun, and Hasan fell down, Munley said.

She then scooted herself up a wall to “try to put pressure on what I know is an arterial wound.”

Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — raised no objections and declined to question Munley, which has largely been his strategy since the trial began last week. However, he stopped stroking his beard and put his hand down when Munley identified him as the shooter.

His lack of defense so far has allowed prosecutors to call more than 70 witnesses, indicating that the trial could wrap up far sooner than the months-long timeline originally announced by the judge, Col. Tara Osborn.

Prosecutors told Osborn on Friday that they have about 15 to 25 witnesses left, likely depending on what evidence and witnesses the judge allows. Such evidence includes references to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks told a skeptical Osborn that Hasan had shown interest in Akbar’s case and that prosecutors wanted to prove Hasan’s attack was a “copycat.” Henricks also said witnesses could include former classmates who heard Hasan talking about suicide bombers.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, had wanted to argue that he carried out the shootings to defend the Taliban from American attacks. But the judge denied that request ahead of trial.

Since then, Hasan has said little to defend himself. The military defense attorneys ordered to help Hasan have accused him of trying to ensure a death sentence, though Hasan denied those claims.

If convicted by the jury, composed of all military officers, Hasan could face the death penalty.

Earlier Friday, an FBI agent told jurors that a search of Hasan’s home the night of the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting revealed a barren apartment.

“It wasn’t so much what we saw, it was what we didn’t see,” said FBI agent Donna Cowling, who led a team of investigators to Hasan’s apartment in Killeen, near the Army post.

She said there was no furniture, only a card table, a prayer rug and a shredder, and that the kitchen cabinets were virtually empty. On the table was a package for a pistol laser sight, rubber bands and paper towels.

Witnesses have testified that Hasan stuffed paper towels in his pockets before the attack to muffle the sound of his ammunition.

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