A Somerville man testified in his own defense Thursday on the third day of his trial in Warren County for allegedly trying to kill police officers in a shootout on Aug. 31, 2020.
Christopher J. Hubbard, 38, and Middletown police Sgt. Dennis Jordan were shot shortly before 5 p.m. after the chase that began in the area of 18th Avenue in Middletown and ended in the 2600 block of Mason-Montgomery Road in Turtlecreek Twp.
Hubbard remains in a wheelchair with a bandaged hand, but was able to stand to get into the witness box in Judge Tim Tepe’s courtroom. Hubbard told jurors he was struck 18 times in the shootout.
Hubbard was indicted Dec. 21, 2020, by a Warren County grand jury for attempted murder and felonious assault for allegedly shooting Jordan; attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault for allegedly shooting at Butler County Sheriff’s deputy Mike Barger; and attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault for allegedly shooting at Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Brett Lee. The charges contain gun specifications that add to a sentence if Hubbard is found guilty.
Hubbard also is charged with two counts of having weapons under disability, failure to comply, improper handling of a firearms in a motor vehicle and a second-degree misdemeanor charge of assaulting a police dog.
Jordan’s dog, Koda, attempted to apprehend Hubbard while he sat in the car. The police dog was not hit by gunfire. Jordan, shot in the shoulder and finger, has recovered and returned to the police force.
An investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation indicated Hubbard shot first, striking Jordan, and that eight officers returned fire.
Defense attorneys say Hubbard acted in self-defense when the pursuit triggered his PTSD and he was attempting to shoot the police dog as it lunged into the window of his car because he was in fear for his life.
Hubbard said in the summer of 2020 he was doing well after getting out of prison, helping a friend with dog breeding and working as a handyman. He was in a new relationship with a woman and was trying to be a father to his young child.
But because he had been a victim of a difficult childhood and had been hit before by gunfire in an attempted robbery in Hamilton County, he’s “always been a little paranoid about police and getting locked up.”
Hubbard said he watched media accounts of the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd a couple months before and voiced Floyd’s treatment by police as “not right.”
He testified he did make some statements along the lines of “not going back to prison and I am not going to get killed with them. But it was a complete hypothetical.”
On Aug. 31, 2020, Hubbard said he was unaware he had any parole violations or that the Hamilton Police Department wanted to talk with him about an unsolved case. He got in his car and began driving to Hamilton en route to Somerville to spend time with his kids catching lightning bugs. Hubbard had two loaded guns in the car, which was a violation of his parole.
While stopped at a light in Liberty Twp., Hubbard said police pulled up.
“The aggression was shocking,” Hubbard said. “They were very aggressive. They almost hit my car.”
Hubbard said he was not going to stop here and continued driving to find a safe place.
“By then I am already freaking out,” Hubbard said. “Then I start thinking I have to call people. I might die — had to talk to people. I am not stopping until I get these calls out of the way.”
After running over tire deflation devices, Hubbard’s car stopped in the yard of a Mason-Montgomery Road residence.
Hubbard said he pushed the seat of his car back because “I didn’t want to get shot in the head. They could see I had my hand up and my phone in my hands.”
He did put his hands out the window and at one point threw out the car keys, but rolled the window back up. Hubbard said he could not hear officers shouting any commands for him to surrender. He called 911, telling the dispatcher to tell the officers not to shoot him.
Hubbard also testified he did not know “how fast” dispatchers could reach officers at the scene.
When officers shot a bean bag into the window so that Jordan’s dog could be deployed, Hubbard said he was cut on his face and hand.
That is when he shot — at the dog, he said.
“He was coming to throw a Frisbee, he was coming to get me,” Hubbard said. “I returned aggression and I didn’t do anything aggressive at all.”
During cross examination, prosecutors pointed out Hubbard’s past convictions for attempted robbery, burglary and trafficking in drugs in 2019. He also admitted to using marijuana and taking pills purchased on the street the day of the incident.
During trial, police officers said he had made statements that he wanted to get in a shootout with police and would not go back to prison.
On Wednesday, Jordan testified at the scene of the incident Hubbard was “faking compliance.”
Jordan said. “He had had plenty of time to comply at that point. It was a 28-mile pursuit. He had plenty of time to make one more phone call.”
The jury has seen videos of the incident, heard from ballistics experts from both sides and family and psychologists who evaluated Hubbard and testified about statements he made about wanting to get in a police shootout before the incident.
Closing statements are scheduled for Monday.