Md. Officer Charged in Shooting;Suspect Left Duty For Woman’s Home

A Montgomery County police officer was arrested and charged with attempted murder Tuesday night after he allegedly left his beat in Silver Spring, shot an unarmed man in Wheaton in a dispute over a woman, then drove 10 miles back to his assigned district, police said.

Officer Darryl S. Austin, accompanied by a rookie officer he was helping to train, allegedly left his patrol sector in the Silver Spring district without permission and drove into the neighboring Wheaton district to a former girlfriend’s apartment in the Winexburg Manor complex on Layhill Road.

Austin, 28, a four-year member of the force, apparently quarreled with the woman’s current boyfriend in a stairwell outside her basement-level apartment shortly before 11 p.m., then allegedly shot the man with his .38-caliber police revolver at least twice in the face and neck at close range.

“He went over there, something happened, and he just snapped,” said Austin’s attorney, BarryHelfand. “I think that’s what this case is going to be all about, maybe a temporary insanity case. He just snapped.”

The victim, identified by police as Willie Lee Jackson, 22, of Northwest Washington, has used numerous aliases and addresses, and has a record of arrests in the District for armed robbery and other offenses. He was taken to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and listed in critical condition last night with wounds so grave that homicide detectives were assigned to the case almost from the start.

After the shooting, as patrol cars from the Wheaton district raced to the apartment complex, Austin drove with rookie Officer Brian Holloway back to Silver Spring, police said. Austin’s former girlfriend, Khavah Carter, identified Austin as Jackson’s assailant, police said. A dispatcher began calling Austin’s car, 2-Henry-1, by radio, but no one answered.

Officers countywide were alerted to look out for him. About 45 minutes after the shooting, one of Austin’s supervisors spotted the 2-Henry-1 car parked outside a 7-Eleven store at New Hampshire Avenue and Northampton Drive near the Prince George’s County line. A sergeant arrested Austin without a struggle after finding him in the store’s washroom, cleaning his uniform, police said.

A police spokesman, Sgt. Harry Geehreng, said police believe Holloway waited in the patrol car while Austin entered the apartment building, and that he also waited in the car while Austin was in the 7-Eleven.

“Apparently {Holloway} was a witness to some of this, or he was aware that there was violence of some kind going on,” Geehreng said. “I think he was in a tough spot. They’re taught to listen to what their field training officers tell them, to listen carefully and do what they’re told.”

He said Holloway, 21, whose recruit class graduated from the police academy Jan. 5, was not charged with a crime. He has been suspended with pay while the shooting is investigated.

Austin, of Silver Spring, is charged with attempted murder and assault with intent to commit murder, and was suspended without pay and ordered held without bail at the Montgomery County Detention Center.

His attorney, Helfand, filed a motion yesterday asking a District Court judge to order Austin transferred to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda for psychiatric tests. Calling his client “a potential danger to himself,” Helfand wrote that Austin apparently suffered a “mental dysfunction.”

Last night Jackson was clinging to life, according to Suburban Hospital spokesman John Davidson. “He’s really more than critical,” Davidson said. “I’m not sure how to put this. He’s `critical critical.’ “

Police department policy states that supervisors are to select officers to become patrol trainers for rookies based on their “demonstrated jobs skills and proficiency, motivation, judgment, leadership abilities and maturity.” The officers are supposed to complete an instructional course. Austin never took the course, police said.