The first police officer on the scene of the Fort Hood shooting testified Friday, telling the jury about the weapon jam that likely saved her life.
Former Fort Hood police officer Kimberly Munley described the gunbattle she waged with Maj. Nidal Hasan outside the medical building at the Soldier Readiness Processing site where Hasan is accused of killing 13 people.
“We began to blindly exchange fire,” Munley told the court.
Munley began her shift Nov. 5, 2009, washing her squad car. Minutes later, the car’s engine was roaring and sirens blaring as she sped toward a call of shots fired.
Prosecutors used Munley’s testimony to introduce a four-minute dashboard camera video. As Munley pulled up to the site off Battalion Avenue, several people ran by her car. The first soldier she saw ran past her saying, “He’s that way! He’s that way!” she testified.
She headed around the northwest corner of a red-roofed building at the six-building complex and saw a soldier in combat fatigues who immediately began firing at her.
“Then I saw a red flash of a laser cross my eyes,” Munley said. “I pulled the hammer back on my weapon to get an accurate shot.”
Hasan retreated around the northeast corner of the building. Munley said she knew from her police training not to chase him. Instead, Munley attempted to flank him, heading to the southwest corner of the building.
Hasan spotted her and continued firing.
“I fire an unknown amount of shots, and he was running toward my direction continuing to fire rapidly,” Munley testified. “I realized he was not slowing down whatsoever, so I stood up and he stepped back.”
Munley was shot three times: in the thigh, knee and hand. She fell to the ground and tried to shoot Hasan, but her weapon jammed.
“I see him standing over me trying to fire his weapon, and his is not firing as well,” Munley said. “He tries to fix his weapon and stumbles off a bit, and I hear Sgt. (Mark) Todd yell, ‘Drop your weapon! Drop your weapon!’”
Todd then shot Hasan, paralyzing the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist and ending the mass shooting. Investigators later recovered more than 80 spent shell casings fired by Hasan and Fort Hood police.
They also found a high capacity 30-round magazine that may have saved Munley’s life.
Previous testimony showed the capability of the F-N 5.7 used in the shooting to hold magazines that could carry up to 30 rounds was a key point in Hasan’s decision to purchase the firearm.
But in a sanity board report Hasan released to the New York Times earlier this week, Hasan stated he preferred the 20-round magazines because the extended magazines had a tendency to jam.
Investigators later collected a 30-capacity magazine near where Hasan was shot that had been ejected from his weapon. It had 28 unfired bullets.
Hasan asked Munley no questions and made no objections during her testimony.
His lack of action while representing himself has led many, including the military lawyers who make up Hasan’s legal team, to conclude Hasan is courting a death sentence.
Documents released earlier this week to the New York Times indicate Hasan believes he would be a “martyr” if executed.
The prosecution will call 15 to 25 more witnesses when hearings resume Monday. Two more witnesses will testify to the “facts of the case” before prosecutors will use testimony to show Hasan’s motive.
Prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks renewed a request to present certain pieces of evidence that presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn has been reluctant to admit.
They include emails between Hasan and a key figure in the terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula.
Hasan communicated sporadically with Anwar al-Awlaki in the months leading up to the shooting.
Prosecutors also want to show the jury Hasan was a “copycat” of Hasan Akbar, the last U.S. soldier sentenced to death for killing fellow soldiers in Kuwait in 2003.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.