A State Supreme Court jury prepared to begin deliberations in the manslaughter trial of Buffalo Police Officer Terrence Robinson today after a prosecutor said the off-duty officer deliberately and criminally drew his service revolver on his overpowered victim.
Anthony Williams, 20, was handcuffed behind his back and pinned face down against the trunk of his car when Robinson carefully stuck the barrel of his weapon against the victim's head "so he could terrorize and threaten" him, prosecutor Albert M. Ranni told the jury.
Williams "was like a captured fish in a steel net; the man was subdued, by all accounts," when he was shot, Ranni said.
Robinson is guilty of second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting because he "created the risk" of death by ignoring his police training about the justifiable use of deadly physical force, Ranni said during his 67-minute closing argument.
"The badge doesn't give you a license to kill," he said.
State Supreme Court Justice Julian F. Kubiniec told the seven women and five men on the jury they will begin deliberations this afternoon.
A five-year police veteran, Robinson faces the manslaughter count for shooting Williams during an altercation on Fillmore Avenue near Main Street about 3 p.m. Oct. 22. Four hours earlier, Robinson told his superiors he was too sick to work his night shift.
Robinson didn't testify during the nine-day trial.
Ranni told the jury Robinson was angry because the officer couldn't arrest Williams, because he told superiors he couldn't work that day, and "he was upset his authority had been questioned" by Williams, who kept demanding to see his police badge.
Williams was already restrained by Robinson, another off-duty police officer and Fillmore Avenue bar bouncer Vincent Smith when Robinson drew his .38 caliber revolver, the prosecutor said.
Robinson knew he didn't need to use such deadly force to make an arrest or defend himself or others or to prevent Williams from escaping, Ranni said.
Ranni scoffed at claims by off-duty Police Officer Jonathan Walton that even though he was standing next to the victim and Robinson, he couldn't hear Robinson tell Williams he would "blow your . . . brains out" just before the shot was fired.
A number of other people at the scene, none of whom attempted to interfere with Williams arrest, heard Robinson's remarks, the prosecutor said.
On Wednesday, Kubiniec scolded Robinson's attorney, Edward C. Cosgrove, for forcing a postponement of deliberations until today by returning to court late after an unrelated government meeting.
Kubiniec told Cosgrove the attorney's tardiness -- after being allowed to speak for four hours to the jury earlier in the day -- was "really an outrage onthat jury."
Kubiniec said he shared in the blame by granting Cosgrove time to attend a meeting of the Horizons Waterfront Commission, which Cosgrove heads.
But the judge told Cosgrove that the attorney's half-hour delay in returning to court at 4:30 p.m. was "really an outrage."
The jury, which wasn't allowed to go to lunch until almost 2:45 p.m. because of Cosgrove's four-hour-long closing arguments, was "being sat on," the judge said.
Kubiniec apologized to the jurors, who had been told by the judge Tuesday that deliberations would begin Wednesday.
"I apologize to you, if you think your goodwill has been taken advantage of," he said.
Without comment, Kubiniec Wednesday dismissed a charge of prohibited use of a weapon, which was also lodged against Robinson.
If convicted, Robinson faces a possible 15-year prison term and dismissal from the force.