WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Crouched on his knees and elbows with the searing pain of a gunshot wound coursing through his belly, Boynton Beach Police Sgt. Richard McNevin had only one thought when a man he was chasing turned, stared him in the eye and prepared to fire again.
"I'm going to die," he told a jury Wednesday, his voice catching with the emotion of reliving the near-death experience.
Luckily, two shots Tarvis Wilson fired that sunny Sunday afternoon in August 2008 missed. The sound of the gunshots attracted the attention of scores of officers who had chased Wilson from Delray Beach nearly to Fort Lauderdale and back again in a scene reminiscent of a TV law enforcement show.
Wilson, 24, of Delray Beach, doesn't deny his involvement in the shooting. Instead, his attorney is arguing that Wilson, who faces life in prison if convicted of attempted first-degree murder, is not guilty because he was insane at the time. In his opening statements to the jury, attorney Ron Chapman said a psychiatrist will testify that Wilson is schizophrenic.
The high-speed chase that attracted officers from Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and the Broward County Sheriff's Office began when, police said at the time, Wilson tried to shoot Trevor King, 21, of Boynton Beach, who had fathered a child with Wilson's sister. Stop sticks thrown down repeatedly by police ultimately blew out the tires of Wilson's Nissan Altima. Wilson jumped out of the still moving car along Southwest 12th Avenue and began running through yards before he shot McNevin and was ultimately shot by police, officers testified.
The courtroom was filled with members of the Boynton Beach police department who donned civilian clothes to show their support for McNevin. Had he not been wearing a bullet-proof vest, the afternoon would have ended far differently, said prosecutor Jacqui Charbonneau.
"The reason Sgt. McNevin is here today is because of that vest," she said.
The trial is expected to wrap up early next week.