tv Caught on Camera MSNBC January 15, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
and that's all for now. i'm ann curry. for all of us here at nbc news, thanks for joining us. in the halls of justice, they have seen it all. >> i thought this is the one that is going to run. >> from the unbelievable. >> just down on all fours to scramble away. >> to the shocking. >> oh, my god. >> courtroom deputies caught by surprise. >> he swung his body away, making contact to my face. >> victims' families lashing out. >> i said the hell with it i tried to reach him. >> even judges pushed too far. >> you shut your damn mouth, sir. >> action that literally rocks
the courtroom. >> that's okay. everyone get under the desk. >> caught on camera, chaos in the court. hello. i'm contessa brewer. welcome to caught on camera. the courtroom has been a place for high drama. it is the suspenseful, long-awaited scene in so many movies, novels and television shows you about this next hour is not about the fictional courtroom, it's about the real one, whether it is a victim's family coming face-to-face with a man who threatened a beloved family member, a suspect who grabs a deputy's gun or a man who tries to escape. you will witness reactions that aren't scripted or rehearsed. chaos erupts in an ohio courtroom. >> i was shocked. i couldn't believe this was
happen-ing right in front of me. >> it's november 16th, 2006, warren, ohio, a small town, two hours northeast of columbus. 24-year-old jason howard is about to be charged with aggravated murder for killing a man and shooting at two others. but it's the family of a victim in another murder case that suddenly charges into the courtroom in a raw and emotional outburst. five months earlier, howard's ex-girlfriend, jamiela west and her three children are found dead in their columbus home. howard is not charged with the crime, but the west family believes he is responsible. this was very unique. >> i've been in courtrooms where is somebody in the back of the courtroom would jump up and start screaming for a few seconds, but nothing quite like this. >> nick rich and reporter peggy sinkovich cover the trumbull county court. they arrive early for the hearing, hoping to talk to jason
howard. >> he was here in warren, ohio, on a murder charge, but police in columbus were also looking at him on a murder charge there with his girlfriend and children, who are from this area. so it was a pretty big case. >> sinkovich interviews the suspect who says he's incident in the murder of jameila west and her children. >> i was a protector and provider for my family, but i wasn't there to protect them and die with them. and i wish i was. to be honest with you, i would rather be dead right now. >> we finished the interview. nick turns his camera off, and i'm real happy, texting my news director, saying i got a good story. and two seconds later, those doors come open and a huge brawl breaks out. >> jamiela west's brother, louis, reaches across the divider and punches howard brutally. handcuffed and chained around the waist, he's completely vulnerable and can't defend himself.
>> i thought i better do something. i grabbed the chains that he had and i pulled him back. >> the deputy slams lewis west against the wall, trying to get the situation under control. suddenly, jameila west's cousin bolts in and hurdles the railing and belts howard. >> it seemed like it was going on forever, and i was like, is anybody coming in? >> a deputy is not far behind and is able to restrain the cousin. jim lewis is howard's attorney. >> and i tried to pick up a chair to distract him so he wouldn't punch him and maybe a deputy could grab ahold of him. >> sit down, right now! >> absolute chaos. nobody was going to listen to anybody. had to use brute force to take control of what was going on. >> when it's over, jason howard slouches in a jury seat, speechless. the brother and cousin of jameila west are arrested and later convicted of misdemeanor assault. jamiela's mother is convicted of inciting violence.
they are all given fines of up to $1,000 and up to two years probation. after family members are escorted out, prosecutor chris becker, who's running late, enters the courtroom. the mood is still tense. >> there were still hearts beating and, you know, blood racing and your emotions are really running high at that point. you know, i felt a little uneasy coming into the courtroom. >> for reporter peggy sinkovich, it's not quite the story she expected to file for the 5:00 news. >> here i thought i had a good story and i ended up with a great story. >> despite the violent fight, no one, not even jason howard, is seriously injured. howard's hearing is rescheduled. he's later convicted of aggravated murder, attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping. he receives a life sentence with a chance of parole after 44 years. >> i think the acts that he's done and what he's in prison for are despicable and he's obviously serving, hopefully, the rest of his life in prison. and he certainly was entitled to the rights and benefits that any
defendant's entitled to, including being protected here in the courtroom. >> howard hasn't been charged for the murder of jameila west and her three children. in fact, no one has. the case is still open and howard remains the only person of interest. in another courtroom, a family member, this time a father, loses control when he comes face to face with the man who threatens his daughter in a terrifying home invasion. >> i was upset. i was ticked off. he just sat there, calm, like it's no big deal. you know, he had that smug look on his face. and i went after him. >> spectators are quickly escorted out of the courtroom in dudley, massachusetts. court officers tackle the 50-year-old dad, clifford
margalia, keeping him away from the suspect, deric allen. according to police reports, on december 16th, 2006 at 2:00 a.m., allen breaks a window to get into the house. >> i was scared, i didn't know what to do. and i had my child in the house, so -- and she was away from me. >> 21-year-old melissa margalia sees it on her baby monitor and makes a desperately 911 call. >> help, somebody's in my house. i have a baby downstairs. >> we got a child downstairs and she's upstairs. >> the intruder reaches melissa's bedroom as she continues on the phone. >> they're going up the stairs. melissa, stay on the line with me, okay? do you hear police? [ screaming ] >> you got to get in there! >> police! >> get off that bed! get off that bed right now! >> he has a knife!
>> police catch deric allen. melissa and her baby daughter are both safe. >> she could have been killed. i mean, without question. if she didn't stay on that phone, absolutely, she could have been killed. >> when melissa's dad first hears the 911 call, he's overwhelmed with emotion. >> i've never heard anything like that in my life. i picture her laying on that bed, with this maniac on top of her. you can only assume what might have been happened, but it wasn't going to be anything good. >> in the courtroom, margalia says allen appears to have no remorse, and hearing his daughter's voice on that heart-wrenching 911 call again is too much. >> i just said, the hell with it. and i tried to reach him. and unfortunately, i didn't. i came within probably a foot or
so, and got tackled by this middle linebacker bailiff there. he hit me around the waist and i fell to the ground and he was on top of me. so, i could picture myself really doing some serious harm to him, so maybe it's a blessing i didn't. >> in 2008, deric allen is found guilty of armed burglary and assault and battery. he's sentenced to 10 to 13 years in prison. for his courtroom outburst, margalia is convicted of disorderly conduct and gets one year probation. he says his anger spilled over that day and still does when he thinks of how much he loves his daughter and what could have happened to her that dreadful night. >> i have no regrets whatsoever. the reality is, she could have been killed. if you don't look after your kids, what's the point? you know, my wife and i live for our kids. that's what we do. give me a hug. you did a good job today. coming up, a defendant flees.
and a scene that shocks the courtroom, when "caught on camera: chaos in the court" continues. [ male announcer ] the super bowl. the most epic day in america. and the end of a journey that began here... when the swipe of a visa card... gave one man the chance to bring happiness to ten friends, and a new lease on life, to one. that was a false start. [ phone rings ] what!? yeah, meema. yes? i won tickets to the super bowl. pack your bags. [ male announcer ] use your visa card for a chance to win. to choose your ten, go to our facebook page. [ female announcer ] nature valley granola bars, rich dark chocolate, toasted oats. perfect combinations of nature's delicious ingredients, from nature valley. ♪ nature valley granola bars, nature at its most delicious.
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in the blink of an eye, a defendant bolts out of an oregon courtroom. >> it all happened lightning quick. you know, the adrenaline's running. >> multnomah county courthouse in portland, oregon. it's april 23rd, 2007. 23-year-old wayne michael trent is in court, charged with stealing a police i.d. and impersonating a cop. travis sewell is the deputy district attorney in the courtroom who requests that trent be put into custody. >> the reason somebody would go into custody is if we deemed them a danger to the community or a flight risk, not to show up to court again. >> it turns out that posing as a police officer is nothing new for the defendant. in 2001, wayne trent, then wayne
skein, breaks into the multnomah county sheriff's office. he takes a uniform, badge and cop car. trent is convicted of burglary and criminal impersonation, but the judge deems him insane and trent is taken to an oregon hospital for treatment. two years later, doctors release him. in 2007, trent is back in court and he's got one trick left up his sleeve. just as the judge orders trent into custody on $250,000 bail, he makes a run for it. >> he put his hands behind his back like he was going to comply, and then he took a short glance at the door and that split second, i thought, this is the one that's going to run. >> a local tv station's camera catches deputy nicole morrissey o'donald immediately chasing after trent as he runs down the steps. >> my thought was, if he were able to get down the stairs, there might be possible weapons that he could access at the bottom of the stairs.
>> the deputy steadily fires her taser gun at trent, who's about 20 yards away. he doesn't get very far. >> he stayed on the stairway. i got on my radio and called for assistance. about four deputies came down the stairs and we handcuffed him. returned him to the courtroom. >> the taser gun is what stops trent in his class. tracks. >> we just had taser recertification class two days prior to that. so, all the training was fresh in my mind. >> after 13 years at the multnomah county sheriff's office, this is the first time morrissey o'donald uses any of the weapons on her belt. >> he didn't say anything. when we walked him back to the courtroom, he was completely silent. >> the judge orders him into custody, again. he increases trent's bail $500,000. >> under oregon law, what mr. trent did after he knew he was going into custody is no different than if he would have tried to escape from the oregon state pen. >> trent is convicted of possession of a false police
officer i.d. card and is sentenced to probation. but for his bold escape, he gets ten months in the slammer. >> he might not have gone to prison but for the fact he tried to run from the courtroom. i think it just goes to show people that you need to follow authority and you need to show respect to the court. and when you don't do that, you can end up with a harsher sentence than what you were originally charged with. and from a bolt to a jolt. an earthquake rocks the judge penny show right in the middle of its taping. >> everybody relax, stay calm. >> all of a sudden, there was a rumble. you hear the stage manager say, "earthquake, get under the desk." >> july 29th, 2008. in los angeles, a magnitude 5.4 earthquake shakes one of the first tapings of a new courtroom television show called "family court with judge penny." >> i'm judge penny brown reynolds, and in my court, family comes first. >> it started as a totally
normal day, yeah. for that taping, we had the gallery filled. >> stephanie draskovich, cofounder of 44 blue productions, is one of the show's executive producers. the tape is rolling and the case is well under way. >> i can still do for the children as though i, you know, planned on. he paid approximately -- >> as the courtroom floor vibrates, judge penny doesn't know what to think, but she tries to keep her exposure. >> i said to the director, "did the cameras just move"? and he said, "yeah, i think something else is going on." >> there was a banging sound, like something fell and we realized it was an earthquake. >> everybody relax! stay calm. >> judge penny ducks under the bench. the litigants crouch under their tables and others in the courtroom calmly take cover under desks and chairs. >> it's okay, everyone. get under the desks. >> get under. >> a few seconds later, the trembling ends.
>> let's start over. >> fortunately, there's no major damage and no one's hurt, just a lot of jolted nerves. now, order is back in the courtroom and judge penny returns with a sense of humor. >> well, i'm shaking things up in hollywood, huh! >> she became known as the earthquake judge, and you know, it's something we never could have planned, probably never would have asked for. i think we can all look back and get a good laugh out of it. coming up, a defendant mouths off to a judge. >> you shut your damned mouth, sir. >> i'm not going to shut my mouth. plus, a shootout outside the courthouse when "caught on camera: chaos in the court" continues.
is that what you're going to do? >> it's march 2nd, 2009, in vancouver, washington. and 30-year-old matthew hastings is in court, about to be sentenced for attempted murder. the prosecution is seeking 120 years. and apparently, hastings feels, at this point, he's got little left to lose. >> i don't really care -- >> you shut your damned mouth, sir. >> i'm not going to to shut my mouth. >> it was a high-profile trial. here, he had shot and almost killed a police officer. >> in early 2009, hastings is convicted of six counts of attempted homicide and possession of firearms. charles buckley is his defense attorney. >> he suffers from a number of mental issues. therefore, combining his mental health issues with the pressure of being sentenced, he clearly was on edge. >> and things were about to set him off even more. hastings sees several deputies from the scene of his crime in the courtroom.
>> mr. hastings was very uptight that there were so many officers in the courtroom that had been involved, which didn't help his mood any. >> it all begins when judge john wulle, known to discuss his rulings with the defendants, starts with a question. >> did you finish high school? >> no. >> buckley says hastings doesn't appreciate the history lesson and makes a face at the judge. >> next time, im going to have you gagged. >> you're going to have me gagged, huh? >> you're right, i am. to me, it was totally alien to everything i know happens in a court of law. i have never seen that kind of conduct in a court of law. >> defense attorney buckley sees where this is going and tries to stop it. >> your honor, i would ask that -- >> mr. hastings is in contempt of court at this point, counselor, and i don't think anyone would disagree with me.
>> suddenly, the judge calls for a recess. >> can i see the attorneys back in chambers? i took a break to let me cool off, because i wanted to keep it on a professional level. >> now in the courtroom, it's a staring game between hastings and the deputies, but it doesn't stay silent for long. hastings >> you're a failure. >> severalourt security officers move in around him in case he gets physical. >> then, judge wulle and the attorneys return, hoping to resume the proceedings more calmly. >> i would like to speak to the audience for just one second, please, and apologize to you. it's very rare that i lose my temper in court and use a word that i probably do not even use at home. so, i apologize to you for the use of the word "damned." >> then the judge showed his decision and directs his disapproval at haste, once again. when you showed me your total disrespect for me as a person, for this court, for this nation, for everyone involved in the process, i see no reason to not stick with the decision i made.
>> absolutely. i'm thankful for that, your honor. that's great. >> you're wasting your time with me now, mr. hastings. i know how to handle a guy like you. the only thing i can say to you on behalf of all the citizens of this community, bye-bye. >> thank you. that's great. is that it? two words? bye-bye. come on, you're smarter than that, your honor. >> trying to push my buttons, son? >> no, i'm not. >> but hastings clearly is. >> we have kids like you in my neighborhood when i was growing up and we know how to take care of you, but these police officers have been told by me that they're not to react. mr. buckley, do you want me to -- >> is that what you want? >> mr. hastings -- >> put mr. hastings back in his chair until we are concluded. >> or? >> hold on until i'm done -- >> i thought you said they weren't supposed to react? >> sit down! >> judge wulle warns hastings his behavior won't help him later. >> you're really hurting your case in front of the court of appeals.
they're going to see this entire record. they're going see your record, they're going to see how you're running your mouth, your honor. bye-bye, we know how to handle kids like you, son? okay, yeah, they're going to see that too. remember, you're on record, just like me, pops. >> finally, the judge gets in the last word, sentencing hastings to the maximum, 120 years in prison. >> all right, thank you, gentleman. in my world, i deal with nothing but ugly features of the human personality.find ways to not le so i can provide the next person coming into the courtroom with a fair environment. coming up, a lawyer is shot. a defendant goes for a gun. and there are cries of shock and horror in the courtroom, when "caught on camera: chaos in the court" continues. [ male announcer ] drinking a smoothie with no vegetable nutrition?
>> here's what's happening. u.s. official say two americans are among the nine passengers still missing in that capsized cruise ship off italy. 120 passengers were on the crew. all but two accounted for. nine crew members are still missing as well. the death toll from the accident stands at five. president barack obama and his family marked a birthday of martin luther king jr. but attending a historic black church in washington, d.c. today. now back to "caught on camera." welcome back to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. so far we've seen brawls, escapes and even earthquakes shaking up the courtroom. but this next struggle happens not inside, but outside the courtroom. a man approaches an attorney as he's leaving and asks a simple question, then he opens fire. in one of the most unbelievable
scenes ever caught on camera, a man is shot at point-blank range and ducks behind a slender tree as bullets fly. it's halloween, october 31st, 2003. reporters are outside the van nuys courthouse to cover a hearing in the murder trial of actor robert blake. but the real drama caught on camera that day is this. >> i just went down on all fours to try to scramble away from him. i knew something bad had happened, i didn't know exactly what it was. >> 53-year-old los angeles attorney gerald curry is leaving the courthouse after attending a hearing about a medical trust fund case. a heavyset man wearing glasses confronts him and asks if he is mr. curry. >> and i said, "yes, who are you?" i just remember an incredibly loud pop or bang. >> television news crews hear it too and scramble to the scene. >> there was a lot of people
screaming. "oh, my god, oh, my god." >> i went behind the tree. i was very scared as he approached me with the gun outstretched. >> at first, witnesses don't know what's going on. some think a movie is filming. maybe it's fireworks or a crazy prank. sonny kang is on a pay phone nearby. >> i heard the loud noise and turned around real quick and the first thing i see is the older guy with a gun in his hand. i was going to run too, but for some reason, my foot wouldn't move. i was shocked. like, oh, my god. >> the gunman is 64-year-old william strier. he's angry because he says curry is one of the people responsible for withholding his money from a trust fund. calmly, strier continues to shoot from one side of the tree to the other with curry bobbing and weaving from side to side. >> and he was just like a
rabbit, just left and right, left and right. as soon as you heard a pop, he was moving. >> he hit me in the right forearm and he hit me on the left shoulder where the bullet went in and out and under the left arm, went out my back and also grazed my underarm. >> finally, after what seems an eternity, strier is out of bullets. he puts the gun in his jacket pocket and nonchalantly walks away. >> he did not break strike. he just came right up to me, coxed his head, he deserves what he got and started walking. he just started walking. >> that's when i was crying on the phone saying, "my god, he needs a paramedic right away." >> a bloody and bewildered curry stumbles out from behind the tree and collapses on to the concrete sidewalk. sonny kang is already on the phone with 911. >> strier takes one look back at the wounded attorney. seconds later, witness and reserve deputy sheriff david katz tackles strier from behind. >> a couple other people at that point had jumped on with me and i was able to get his left arm behind after and i just held his arms behind his back until another deputy came in. >> get down!
>> face down on the ground, strier is handcuffed. police discover a second gun in his pants pocket. >> let's bring him straight to the lockup. >> meanwhile, gerald curry lies on the concrete with five bullets in him. >> paramedics are on the way. they'll check you out, okay? >> curry is rushed to the hospital and thanks to the tiny tree and his quick thinking, he survives. >> he is an extremely fortunate gentleman. >> dr. charles dang is an emergency physician who examines curry. the first bullet, lodged in his neck, is only fractions of an inch away from his spinal cord. this one bullet could have paralyzed or killed him in an instant. >> there aren't too many people that get shot that many times and live to tell about it. >> because of strier's poor health and mental state, his trial is delayed for years. >> and i want to make a statement. >> in 2006, he's in court, lying on a hospital gurney because of
a back injury from years ago. he complains to the judge that he wants to fire his attorney. >> i want to file an objection. you are forcing me to have this attorney. i was on solitary confinement for over two years. i am being beaten up there. i am being tortured up there. >> the judge listens to strier for more than 20 minutes and then cuts him off. >> i've heard enough. the sentencing is on. i've heard enough. >> months later, the judge and strier face off again in the courthouse. >> but i have a right to make these statements. >> okay. deputy, let's take him out. >> the judge orders him out of the courtroom and sentences him. >> the defendant is sentenced to life in prison. >> william strier is convicted of premeditated attempted murder with the use of a firearm. he's sentenced to life plus an additional 25 years in prison, where he dies in 2007.
coming up, the crowd gasps when the defendant enters the courtroom. a defendant goes for a gun. >> i was just in shock. i couldn't believe what was going on. plus, a terrifying scene that sets in motion one of the bloodiest days in america's courts, when "caught on camera: chaos in the court" continues.
>> so rarely does one story so capture, you know, the public sensibilities and the public curiosity as a story like this. >> from the very beginning, because it was so violent, because it was so unexpected, so unpredictable and because it was so out of the ordinary. >> larry estepa, a veteran reporter, has been covering trials for 33 years. he's in the courtroom when the defendant, 26-year-old esteban carpio, is led through the doors. estepa has never seen anything like it. >> first, there was a gasp. >> oh, my gosh! >> it was tough to look at him. he had -- bruised, he was swollen. he had scars on his face. >> carpio, wearing a mask, making him look like the movie character hannibal lecter, is being arraigned for murder. in the courtroom, his family is shocked to see his disfigured face. >> step up. step up. not guilty. not guilty. tell them not guilty. >> but that only tells part of the story.
>> it's april 17th, 2005, in the middle of the night, and it's a chaotic scene outside police headquarters in providence, rhode island. >> beloved police detective jimmy allen has just been shot twice in the chest while questioning a suspect about the stabbing of an elderly woman. >> carpio had asked for water, and the two detectives that were in there with him, one left to go get the water and locked the door behind him. >> officers outside the room hear a violent struggle, but can't get in, because the door is locked from the inside. >> and they tragically heard detective allen say, "i think he's going to kill me. he's got my gun. he's going to kill me." >> by the time they broke it down, the officer was dying and carpio had jumped out the window. the now-suspected cop killer makes a daring escape, breaking through a glass window and plummeting three stories to the ground. injured but alive, carpio is on the run and a massive manhunt is under way.
at police headquarters, the mood is somber. >> it was a very emotional scene. the police chief himself, esserman, came down as they loaded detective allen's body into the van. he took personal command of the situation. he just wanted to be there. >> the detective, james allen, is a 27-year veteran of the province police department and few cops are held in higher regard. >> he was just regarded as one of the best police officers the city of providence probably ever produced. >> esteban carpio is found and taken into custody nearly an hour after his bold escape. it's little consolation to police. >> and we've lost a remarkable man today, and this city is the worse for it. >> jimmy allen passed in the noblest way possible.
he gave his life trying to make our lives safer. he died serving us. he died a hero. >> the next morning, at the arraignment hearing, the police chief and many of officer allen's friends and colleagues await the suspect's arrival. >> oh, my gosh! >> look at what they did to him! >> the air just kind of went out of the room for a second as everybody's eyes were transfixed on carpio. they wanted to see the man they perceived to be a monster that could have done this. >> and when carpio walks in, there are cries of shock and horror. >> carpio's mask is called a spit shield and is typically used when a suspect is either bleeding or combative. police say the suspect was being combative, spitting on them, but his relatives think the mask is covering up a revenge beating carpio took at the hands of police. >> it's police brutality! he was mentally ill and he
needed help and we couldn't get it and we tried and tried and he didn't deserve this. >> an investigation conducted by the fbi later concludes carpio sustains his wounds from a combination of smashing through the window, falling three stories, and the use of necessary force to apprehend the fleeing suspect. >> there is no civil rights violation when injuries are incident to arrest. meaning, if he's fighting the police officers, the officers have the right to use whatever force necessary to subdue the subject. >> as for the claim by carpio's aunt that he's mentally ill, the jury rejects his insanity defense and finds him guilty of murdering james allen. the judge gives him the maximum sentence allowed, life without parole. >> oh, my gosh! >> this was such an aberrant story, there was no way to put this on an equal plane with anything i'd ever seen before.
this was pretty much the personification of evil in a lot of people's minds. this is the guy that killed jimmy allen. and i think there was great relief when it finally came down that this guy was never going to be in a position to harm anybody else again. a convicted murderer does something courtroom deputies fear most. he tries to grab an officer's handgun, setting off pandemonium and fear in the courtroom. >> i was just in shock. i couldn't believe what was going on. i was stunned. i couldn't move. >> it's may 12th, 2008, battle creek, michigan, two hours west of detroit. 43-year-old michael fisher is on trial for murdering his wife and 12-year-old son. >> it was a double homicide. we don't get a lot of those in calhoun county, it was a child, and it happened right after christmas. so, it did attract a lot of media attention.
>> after the closing arguments, the judge gives his verdict. >> guilty as charged of first-degree premeditated murder. >> michael fisher is convicted of the double murders in december 2006. >> it was after that that the commotion happened in the courtroom. >> no! no! >> michael fisher was clearly agitated. he moved very quickly. i saw him get out of his chair. he turned quickly. >> he swung his body away -- towards me, swinging, making contact with my face, hitting me in the face. >> deputy eby sort of fell back and michael fisher went for his gun at that point. it was frightening. >> deputy eby, reacting quickly, has his arms around fisher's waist, squeezing him tightly. >> it happened in split seconds. as i was driving into him, lifting him up, that's the point where he places his hands on my weapon. shortly thereafter, placed him
over the partition. detective bradwise yelled, "i have your weapon secure." another officer, deputy wallen, told me he was taking control of my taser. >> fisher is subdued, but the woman screaming from the start is not. that woman is candy fisher's daughter, who lost her mother and stepbrother at the hands of michael fisher. seeing fisher's violent outburst puts her over the edge. >> god will get you for what you did to me. >> it was a terrifying moment for her. it's something that's affected her, i think, to this day. >> deputies handcuff fisher and remove him from the courtroom. witnesses notice a smirk on his face. >> he was laughing. it was as though it was a joke to him. he didn't have anything to lose. >> it's only later that the horrible scene starts to sink in for deputy eby. >> i did not feel scared at the moment. after seeing the pictures and,
you know, what could have happened, but at the time i just reacted to the moment and did what i felt i had to. >> as it turns out, fisher would have had a very difficult time getting a handle on deputy eby's gun, because eby's glock 40 is a secured in a high-security, level three holster. >> it takes three mechanisms to release the gun from my holster, three different actions. he did not break any of the levels of the holster. >> this is your opportunity to speak as it relates to sentencing. >> a month later, when it comes time for sentencing, fisher is hardly a changed man. he has chilling words for the court. >> i'm going to come back and i'm going to get every last one of you who did something to me. and i'm going to get your families and everything. i don't care about your families, i don't care about you. hell, i actually killed my wife a few years ago. >> i think justice will be served by sentencing you to a term of life in prison without patrol. >> michael fisher will spend the rest of his life behind bars. those in the courtroom on the day of his verdict can only imagine the tragedy that might have been.
>> if he had gotten the gun out of the holster, there would have been bloodshed in this courtroom, no question. coming up, a suspect breaks free, opens fire in the courtroom and terrorizes a city. >> flash news, there are reports that two people have been shot outside a federal courthouse. >> when "caught on camera: chaos in the court" continues. [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if you took the top down on a crossover? if there were buttons for this? wouldn't it be cool if your car could handle the kids... ♪ ...and the nurburgring? or what if you built a car in tennessee that could change the world? yeah, that would be cool. nissan. innovation for today. innovation for tomorrow. innovation for all. ♪ that's good morning, veggie style.
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a rape suspect is led into a holding cell by a single female deputy. it's march 11th, 2005, 8:45 a.m., and what you're watching is a chilling prelude to one of the country's most deadly courtroom shootings. >> flash news out of fulton county, georgia, right now. at this hour, there are reports that two people have been shot outside a federal courthouse. >> how did this happen? i just kept saying, how did this happen? >> georgia attorney shoran reid
spent almost three years researching the story of this tragic day. she's the author of "waking the sleeping demon: 26 hours of terror in atlanta." >> brian nichols was escorted from the holding cell in the basement of fulton county courthouse by deputy cynthia hall to a holding cell. >> nichols befriends 51-year-old hall, who was assigned to guard him in two previous trials. other deputies offer assistance, but they say deputy hall says she's comfortable enough alone with nichols and declines any help. she brings the 33-year-old defendant to this confined space to change clothes for a retrial in his rape case. hall removes one cuff and turns to remove the other when nichols attacks, violently shoving hall into another cell. >> brian nichols overpowered deputy hall and severely beat her. >> off camera, hall is brutally
beaten. within four minutes, nichols grabs her gun, locks her in the cell, and changes into civilian clothes. he's about to begin a killing spree that will paralyze the city of atlanta for 26 straight hours. >> he walked calmly over to judge barnes' chambers in the old courthouse, took two of judge barnes' staff hostage, then took three more people hostage and held them inside of judge barnes' office, inside his chambers. >> 9:05 a.m., nichols barges into judge barnes' courtroom. he shoots the judge pointblank in the back of the head, and instantly kills him. this is an actual audio tape recording of the tragic shooting. [ gunshot ] [ screaming ] >> he then turned to shoot the prosecutor, realizing that the people sitting at the prosecutor's table were not the
prosecutors trying his rape trial, turned from those lawyers, shot the court reporter. >> court reporter julie brandau dies a few minutes later. >> i was right outside the courtroom. >> ash joshi is the prosecutor in nichols' rape trial, one of the attorneys nichols is looking for. he's making his way to the courtroom for nichols' trial when he's stopped by the deputies. >> the deputies were all yelling at me to get off the floor. and it was not at all a suggestion. it was a command to get off the floor. >> joshi would later realize just how lucky he was. >> what if i had been in the courtroom and what would nichols have tried to do or done to me? >> by now, nichols runs outside. sergeant hoyt teasley is right on his tail. >> that deputy, however, did not know that anyone had been killed in the courtroom or that there were hostages. >> nichols shoots the officer five times and teasley dies a
short time later. >> everybody off the sidewalk! >> brian nichols is armed and on the run. a major manhunt begins. >> police now on a massive manhunt for 33-year-old brian nichols. >> he goes into an underground parking garage where he carjacks a deputy's car. he'd later carjack at least five others. >> he would put a gun to them and order them out of their vehicles, take their vehicle, switch vehicles, and continue to switch vehicles. >> one of the cars nichols steals is a green honda that belongs to this reporter. nichols hits him over the head with a gun. >> i think i'm extremely lucky to escape without being shot or thrown in the trunk. >> this parking garage security camera captures nichols casually walking down the stairs, apparently wearing o'brien's blazer. >> the story that we're covering for you, a major manhunt under way in atlanta. >> the search for brian nichols is broadcast all day, and it appears there's no sign of the horror ending anytime soon.
>> at this hour, the atlanta courthouse killer is still on the loose. here's the latest right now. >> 11:00 p.m., nichols is still the most wanted man in atlanta. >> he accosted the deputy, took five hostages, killed three people, carjacked five people, and did all of that in a span of 30 minutes and resurfaced later that night after trying to take some more hostages. >> nichols strikes again. federal agent david wilhelm is the fourth victim. his body is found the next morning in his new home. his badge, gun and truck are missing. nichols' final hostage is single
mother, ashley smith, who he approaches outside her apartment. >> i turned around and he was right there. >> smith says nichols follows her to the front door and ties her up. >> he said, "i don't want to hurt you, i don't want to hurt anybody else, so please don't do anything that's going to make me hurt you." >> all night, smith says she reads passages from a book called "the purpose driven life" and talks to him about god and her family. >> my husband died four years ago. and i told him that if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn't have a mommy or a daddy. and she was expecting to see me the next morning. and if he didn't let me go, she would be really upset. >> early the next morning, nichols lets her leave her apartment to go see her daughter. she calls 911. >> the victim is advising that he is in the apartment at this time. >> police quickly close in on the apartment complex. with ashley smith watching from behind a van across the parking lot, nichols waves a white cloth and surrenders. >> he had nowhere to go. he was not getting out of that apartment with the s.w.a.t. team having him surrounded in the manner that they did. >> it's a sigh of enormous
relief for the people of atlanta. >> this person is no longer free and roaming our streets. >> crowds cheer as the police take nichols away. smith becomes a hero for helping nichols surrender. she receives a $70,000 reward. in 2008, brian nichols is convicted on 54 counts, including murder and kidnapping. he's sentenced to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole. the short scene that sets in motion a day of terror leaves many in atlanta wondering, why? >> a lot of people who carry a tremendous amount of guilt about things they did or did not do that day, and the one person who should, i think, carries none, and that's brian nichols. >> deputy cynthia hall is left with permanent brain damage and is blind in one eye. she has no memory of the beating she took from brian nichols. if you have a video you'd like