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Victim, defendant testify in case of cop shooter

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    Jamaine Hill testifies during his trial before Judge James Bates in the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo, Ohio on June 13, 2018.

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    Jamaine Hill speaking about finding out that he had been shooting at police officers and not at would-be thieves. The police, executing a "no-knock" warrant, were breaking down his door to enter his house when Hill shot at them. Hill testified during his trial before Judge James Bates in the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo, Ohio on June 13, 2018.

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    Detective Jason Picking waves to fans after dropping the puck before a hockey game between the Toledo Walleye and Indy Fuel at the Huntington Center in Toledo on Saturday, December 2, 2017. Picking was shot while assisting in the execution of a drug-related search warrant in November.

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On the night he was shot in the face outside a North Toledo home, Det. Jason Picking said he feared he would never see his family again.

The man on trial for shooting him told a jury Wednesday that he too feared he was going to die.

“Why did you shoot?” defense attorney John Thebes asked the defendant, Jamaine Hill.

“I was scared. I was trying to protect me and my wife,” Hill testified on the third day of his trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. “I thought we was going to die. I thought somebody was breaking in.”

“I didn't mean to hurt him. I really didn't mean to hurt him,” Hill said, breaking down in tears. “I didn't know. I really thought somebody was breaking in our house.”

WATCH:  Jamaine Hill testifies

Hill, 39, of 4103 Caroline Ave. is charged with seven counts of felonious assault for shooting Detective Picking just after 2 a.m. Nov. 16 and firing in the direction of six members of the Toledo Police SWAT team attempting to enter his house with a no-knock search warrant.

Hill, who also is charged with having weapons while under disability, admitted he had a prior felony conviction from Wood County Common Pleas Court for drug trafficking that prohibited him from having a gun. What is in dispute is whether he knowingly fired at the police officers.

Detective Picking, who did not want to be photographed in the courtroom, told the jury he had been involved in executing more than 200 search warrants, at least half of which were nonconsensual, no-knock warrants.

He said that on Nov. 16, he briefed SWAT team members and vice officers downtown before all of them headed to the Caroline Avenue address. Team members were getting into place when he heard one of them yell that someone was running out of the back of the house.

“I started to run toward the back where they said someone was running and at that point I was shot,” the detective said, adding that he did not hear any shots.

“What did you feel?” Dexter Phillips, an assistant county prosecutor, asked him.

“The most unbelievable pain I've ever felt in my life,” Detective Picking said. “I would compare it to a Major League baseball player getting hit with a bat.”

He called for help. He called his wife.

“I was thinking I was never going to see my family,” Detective Picking said. “I had to call my wife and tell her that I love her, tell her goodbye, tell the kids and my family that I loved them because I didn't think I would see them again.”

His jawbone was shattered. Paramedics had to cut off his bullet-proof vest because his face was so swollen they could not pull it over his head.

An induced coma was followed by a 10-hour surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

When he awoke, he said, “I remember asking the doctor if I was going to die. I remember my family being there. ... I remember asking if they got the person who shot me.”

The detective said he is to have another major surgery in August or September, when surgeons will remove a piece of his leg bone and re-open his jawline to try to rebuild it.

Mr. Thebes asked no questions of the detective before calling his only witness, Hill, to the stand.

Hill, who lost his left leg after being shot in 2000, told the jury he was asleep on a sofa bed in the living room when he and his wife heard glass breaking from a window over him. He yelled out. She jumped up and started running and screaming, he said, and he grabbed a gun that was on the couch nearby.

“I heard a lot of rumbling on the porch and I seen somebody grab the doorknob,” Hill said.

He said that after experiencing vandalism, break-ins, and problems with neighbors, he fired “four or five times” before the door was pushed open and he realized it was the police.

“As I fired the fifth shot, that's when they came in. I seen it was the police and I put the gun down,” Hill said. “I put my hands up and I started saying, 'I didn't know it was y'all. I apologize.'”

The jury is to return at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to hear closing arguments and begin its deliberations.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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