Officer who handcuffed Warren County deputy shooting suspect testifies

Sgt. John Smith testifies about arresting and handcuffing the man suspected of wounding Deputy Katie Barnes in June 2016 in Warren County.
Sgt. John Smith testifies about arresting and handcuffing the man suspected of wounding Deputy Katie Barnes in June 2016 in Warren County.

Sgt. John Smith recalled Mohammed Laghaoui returning to the scene of the shooting of another Warren County Sheriff’s deputy on June 9, ending a manhunt that prompted the lockdown of the area.

During testimony Thursday in Warren County Common Pleas Court, Smith said he was part of a line of law enforcement officers, gathered near the Laghaoui family apartment when Laghaoui was spotted coming around a building, shirtless and weaponless, about 4:30 a.m. on June 10.

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A prosecutor asked Smith, a supervisor and evidence technician, if he was the officer who handcuffed Laghaoui, ending the incident that froze the busy Landen area of Deerfield Twp., Warren County. “Yes I did,” Smith said.

Smith also testified to assisting a Clermont County deputy with a K-9 to learn Laghaoui’s scent from his belongings while the search continued and demonstrated a weapon similar to the semi-automatic AK-47 alleged to have been used.

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Smith also said evidence gathered at the scene indicated Laghaoui was “ignorant” how to operate the gun, which has never been recovered.

Laghaoui, now 20, faces 10 charges, including the attempted murder of Deputy Katie Barnes. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Barnes and Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims were back in the courtroom Thursday.

The day ended with jurors, who were also provided a transcript, watching a recording of the interview with Laghaoui.

He was interviewed from about 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., June 10, at the sheriff’s office.

During the interview, which lasted more than an hour, Laghaoui said he fired at a woman pointing a gun at him after being robbed in the parking lot.

“She shot back. It scared the hell out of me,” he said.

He said he used an AK-47 he’d recently purchased.

Laghaoui also said he ran back to the apartment and fired at the door lock before running off into the woods.

He told the interviewers he threw the gun into water and blacked out.

Earlier Thursday, Detective Mark Purdy recalled hearing that Barnes had been wounded.

“Everybody that’s in earshot of that radio, that just turns your blood to ice,” Purdy said according to a report by WCPO. “Everybody responds.”

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Purdy was the first person to look at video captured from the camera in Barnes’ vehicle that night. Jurors also got to see it Thursday.

Barnes being hit isn’t in the frame, but she’s visible afterward, trying to get to safety.The video showed Laghaoui’s brother helping their father after the shooting.

It was the fourth day of the trial, expected to continue into next week.