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Lawyer says Gainesville man didn’t shoot at officers
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Attorney Jean Sperling gives his opening statement to jury members Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Hall County Superior Court. Sperling's client Marcos Garcia-Tovar is facing two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. - photo by Scott Rogers

Rewinding, playing and rewinding again, the defense attorneys scrutinized the seconds of camera footage when a Gainesville Police officer jumped out of his car and confronted two suspects accused of pointing a gun at another officer.

The footage was shown Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Hall County Superior Court during the trial of Marcos Garcia-Tovar, of Gainesville, who is facing two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The officer’s vehicle was not hit and “no bullets were ever found,” said defense attorney Jean Sperling in his opening statement to jurors on Tuesday.

There were shell casings found in a field but no further evidence to show Garcia-Tovar was trying to shoot at officer Stephen Boykin near the Athens Street Burger King on Nov. 17.

Garcia-Tovar is also accused of pointing a gun at Gainesville police officer Francisco Leyva, according to a December indictment.

Sperling said he wasn’t contesting the firearm possession charge, but he argued his client did not commit the assaults on the officers.

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Marcos Garcia-Tovar waits Oct. 16, 2018, in Hall County Superior Court to defend two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in November 2017. - photo by Scott Rogers

Boykin and Leyva testified Tuesday afternoon in the case.

Much of the cross-examination of Boykin, who fired his service weapon, concerned the dashboard camera and the in-car camera.

“I began running after them, but I heard a series of gunshots and observed a muzzle flash,” Boykin told Assistant District Attorney Anna Fowler, leading him to fire his weapon three times.

The dash cam footage showed two people running away from Boykin’s patrol car. Sperling said the mention of a muzzle flash seen at chest level was not in his report or statement to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent and that Boykin could only speculate on what happened.

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Gainesville Police Officer Stephen Boykin takes the stand Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Hall County Superior Court during the sentencing of Alondra Rodriguez. Marcos Garcia-Tovar and Rodriguez, 21, were accused in a December indictment of pointing a gun at officer Francisco Leyva and shooting at Boykin. - photo by Scott Rogers

Assistant District Attorney Harold Buckler said in his opening statement that Boykin immediately felt threatened by gunfire at the scene “and his training took in.”

“He was scared he was never going to see his family again,” Buckler said.

Officers were originally dispatched after a 911 caller told authorities a man was dragging a woman down the road.

Alondra Rodriguez, 21, also was accused in the incident and sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday, Oct. 11.

“When the police officer tried to arrest my boyfriend, I panicked. As they were fighting, my boyfriend was screaming, ‘My leg. You’re hurting my leg.’ I heard him screaming for me to help, so I did,” Rodriguez wrote in a letter read last week during her plea and sentencing.

Sperling asked Leyva during cross-examination if Garcia-Tovar tried to hurt him while he attempted to arrest him. Leyva said he did nothing other than squirm.

“That act of being hit with that gun had nothing to do with Mr. Garcia … and all to do with Ms. Rodriguez, correct?” Sperling asked.

Leyva concurred.

The officer said he saw Rodriguez pointing a gun and saw a red beam aimed in his general direction. Buckler showed the jury a gun with a sight Tuesday morning.

“This is the toughest situation I’ve ever (been) put in,” Leyva said.

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Gainesville Police Officer Francisco Leyva takes the stand Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Hall County Superior Court during the sentencing of Alondra Rodriguez. Marcos Garcia-Tovar and Rodriguez were accused in a December indictment of pointing a gun at officer Francisco Leyva and shooting at officer Stephen Boykin. - photo by Scott Rogers

Leyva told the jury his birthday was a few days after the incident.

“It hurts me to think that instead of celebrating a birthday, they’d be attending a funeral,” he said.

The jury will return at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 in Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller’s courtroom.

Reporter Jeff Gill contributed to this report


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Hall County Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller presides over the Marcos Garcia-Tovar trial Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2018. Garcia-Tovar is facing two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. - photo by Scott Rogers
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