People v. Christian Patterson
The case involved the June 7th 2011 line of duty murder of Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Kurt Wyman and the attempted murders of Deputy Thomas Larkin and Investigator David Nowakowski.
The case arose out of a domestic disturbance that occurred at 4588 Knoxboro Road in the Town of Augusta. The defendant became involved in a domestic quarrel with his girlfriend of 19 years at their residence. The argument quickly escalated and turned physically violent. After trying to confine his girlfriend in their bedroom, physically struggling with her, making death threats to her and trying to access a gun cabinet, the defendant caused his girlfriend and son to flee the residence in fear for their lives. They sought safety at a neighbor’s house and a call was placed to Oneida County 911. While awaiting the arrival of the police, the defendant armed himself with a shotgun from a gun cabinet in the master bedroom, and loaded it with five rounds of 12 gauge rifled slug ammunition. The defendant placed an additional six rounds of ammunition in his pockets. Prior to the arrival of the Police, a concerned friend called the defendant and tried to get him to calm down. During the conversation, the defendant told him: “The cops are on their way”; “I’m not going to be arrested”; “I’m not being taken from my house”; “I’m cocked and ready” and ended the conversation by saying “I’m locked and loaded.” The defendant went into the attached garage of his residence, placed his shotgun on the floor nearby, and waited in the open bay of his garage for the police to arrive.
Deputy Kurt Wyman was the first to arrive, in full uniform and driving a marked patrol vehicle. Upon Wyman’s approach to the attached garage, the defendant grabbed his shotgun and Wyman then drew his service weapon. The defendant was repeatedly commanded by Wyman to put his weapon down. The defendant repeatedly refused to do so. A standoff situation followed. Additional road Deputies, Emergency Response Team members (S.W.A.T.), senior command from the Sheriff’s Office and two New York State Troopers arrived at the scene over the first hour of the standoff. An outer and inner perimeter was established and the neighborhood was closed off to traffic. During the Standoff, the defendant was asked repeatedly to disarm and come out of the garage peacefully. Several different members of the Sheriff’s Office spoke to him throughout the evening, including the initial responders, followed by two trained negotiators- Investigator David Nowakowski and Sergeant Robert Nelson. The defendant was given many opportunities to surrender and repeatedly declined. During the standoff, the defendant maintained a grip upon the trigger area and fore stock of the weapon, and alternated between standing and sitting on a mechanic’s stool in the open bay of his garage.
During the standoff, it became apparent to officers present that the defendant was becoming less communicative. Additionally, he was repeatedly turning on the stool so that the barrel of the weapon swung slowly out in the direction of the officers. Through his gesturers, words and actions, the defendant appeared to the officers to be working up the courage to do something drastic to either himself or to one of them. Among the command members it was decided that if there came a time that the defendant took his hand off of the trigger of the shotgun, that they would fire less than lethal munitions (hard foam balls designed to incapacitate) at him in order to take him into custody without gunfire. Deputy Wyman was to move in behind the E.R.T. team upon command in the event that the opportunity presented itself and the foam balls were fired. His job was to stand ready with his taser in the even the defendant continued to resist arrest.
As the standoff was entering its sixth hour, the defendant became less communicative and eventually rolled on his mechanics stool to the back of the garage. The police responded by telling him that they would have to move the police car forward to refocus the spotlight upon him. A short time later, the defendant was observed putting a jacket on, which made it necessary to temporarily give up his grip on the trigger of the shotgun. When this happened, the police gave the order to fire the foam projectiles at him. It was hoped that this would incapacitate the defendant by knocking him off the stool and separating him from his weapon. The defendant was hit with two of the foam projectiles in the area of his upper body. This caused him to be pushed backward, but he was supported by the rear garage wall and he ended up in a crouched, forward facing position. Unfortunately, he still had the shotgun in his hands. Prior to the E.R.T. members advancing on his position, Deputy Wyman swept to the left and quickly advanced to the garage door opening with his taser drawn and aimed at the defendant. The defendant swung the barrel of his shotgun around, leveled it at Deputy Kurt Wyman and fired at the same moment that Wyman was firing his taser. Deputy Wyman was approximately 15 feet from the muzzle of the weapon and was immediately knocked off of his feet when fired upon. The defendant pumped the shotgun, aimed to the left of Wyman’s position and fired a second shot at Deputy Thomas Larkin who was crouched across the hood of the police car and was simultaneously returning fire at the defendant. The shot did not hit Larkin but went over his head and traveled downrange. The defendant again pumped his shotgun and aimed to the left of the second shot and fired a third and final shot at Investigator Nowakowski, who was in the driver’s seat of the patrol car and who was also returning fire. The third shot lodged in a gas grill in front of the patrol car, but would have hit the vehicle’s windshield but for the grill. Deputy Wyman was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. He died of massive blood loss and trauma to the front of his neck and several major veins and arteries. He left behind a pregnant young wife and a very young son. His wife went into labor when she heard of his passing and gave birth to their daughter later that same day.
The defendant was indicted on one count of Aggravated Murder for Deputy Wyman’s death, two counts of Attempted Aggravated Murder for his attempts on the lives of Deputy Larkin and Investigator Nowakowski, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Harassment, Second Degree for the physical acts of aggression against his girlfriend. Trial was held from January 30 to February 9, 2012. During the trial, the defendant raised the psychiatric defense of Extreme Emotional Disturbance. The defendant called a psychologist as an expert witness during the presentation of the defense case, and the People called a psychiatrist as an expert witness in their rebuttal case. On February 9, 2012, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as to each count of the indictment. On April 11, 2012, the defendant received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of Parole.