Trial continues for man accused of shooting at police officer

Charles Benson is escorted to court for day one of his trial for attempted murder of an FWPD officer June 1, 2016.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The trial for Charles Benson continues Thursday in Allen County Superior Court.

Benson is accused of shooting at FWPD officer Robert Geiger in the afternoon of January 30, 2016 after Benson fled from a traffic stop.  Benson is being charged attempted murder, resisting law enforcement and criminal recklessness.  The state will be pursuing an enhancement of some sort which will be discussed at the beginning of the second day of the trial Thursday.

Geiger made a traffic stop after a vehicle made an unsafe stop, unsafe lane change and failure to use a turn signal near the intersection of Clinton & Lewis Streets.  Eventually Geiger stopped the vehicle near the intersection of Lewis & Francis.  Video from Geiger’s squad car was played in the courtroom during the first day of the trial Wednesday showing Benson getting out of the passenger side of a black, older style Crown Victoria and running towards the intersection of Lewis and Francis Streets.  Benson turns the corner out of view of the squad car’s camera, but audio of gunshots can be heard.  Officer Geiger testified that as Benson was running away, Benson turned and looked directly him while running and fired at least two shots.  Geiger dropped to the ground momentarily, calls out shots fired and returns fire at Benson.  As the chase continues, eventually Geiger comes face-to-face with Benson and, according to Geiger’s testimony, Benson “squared up” and fired again at Geiger to which Geiger again returned fired.  Some audio of the exchange can be heard on the FWPD radio traffic that was also played in the courtroom.  Eventually Benson fell to the ground and raised his hands to surrender but still had a silver gun near his hand.  Geiger held Benson in place until Officer John Drummer arrived on scene seconds later to help handcuff Benson and move him away from the weapon.  Drummer’s squad car was also equipped with a camera but was primarily beneficial for the audio portion in which Benson can be heard saying “they were shooting at me” claiming he didn’t know it was the police who were chasing him.  Officers Jeff Norton and Tyler Clark also testified Wednesday.  Norton also heard Benson say he didn’t know the police were chasing him.  Clark located two shell casings near the intersection of Lewis & Francis and let crime scene technicians know.

Three residents of East Lewis Street also testified to what they saw that day.  Each person noticed a man running from police conducting a traffic stop.  None could positively identify who the shooter was.

The final witness of the day was FWPD crime scene technician Robert Wilcox.  He was able to collect two .45 caliber shell casings near Lewis & Francis.  The shell casings were consistent with the gun that was found near Benson when he was apprehended.  Two shell casings from a 9mm were recovered near Lewis & Francis also that were consistent with Officer Geiger’s gun.  The gun found by Benson was swabbed for DNA but returned no results.  A full .45 caliber Colt Commander can hold up to 8 bullets and the gun found near Benson only had four remaining.  A 9mm like Officer Geiger’s can hold a maximum of 18 bullets and his had 11 bullets left.

Testimony continues Thursday.  The case is expected to go to the jury sometime in the afternoon.

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