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Suspect in Pittsburgh police officer's shooting alleges conspiracy

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, 5:38 p.m.

Pittsburgh police “monkeyed around” with the bullet that doctors pulled from Officer Morgan Jenkins' spine to make it look like James Hill shot him, Hill and his defense attorney charged on Friday in court.

“How do we know that was the bullet that was given to the crime lab? We can't be sure,” public defender Robert Foreman said during his closing argument. Police officers “are going to do whatever it takes to stand up for one another.”

Hill, 25, is charged with attempted homicide, assault of a law enforcement officer and related counts in the April 11, 2013, shooting that paralyzed Jenkins. His trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman began on Tuesday.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about an hour and a half before Cashman sent them home. They'll resume on Monday.

Deputy District Attorney Ilan Zur called Hill's testimony “garbage” and “an incredible, fantastic story that makes absolutely no sense.”

“James Hill was a desperate man that night,” Zur said. “He was going to do anything he could, including shooting his way out of it. The only person he cared about that night was himself.”

Police had an arrest warrant for Hill because he had escaped from a halfway house about a year earlier and didn't want to go back to jail, Zur said.

Hill testified that he blacked out when Jenkins shot him in the chest, and that he never got off a shot from the 9-mm handgun he carried into a wooded area after fighting with Jenkins and his partner, Officer Michelle Auge.

Hill claimed Auge shot Jenkins with her .40-caliber pistol, and that police shot him and fired rounds from his gun while he was unconscious. He claimed the bullet doctors took from Jenkins' spine during surgery was a .40-caliber that officers later swapped with a 9-mm.

Jenkins testified Monday that Hill sped through a residential neighborhood, went through two stop signs and fought with the officers when his car crashed. Jenkins chased Hill into the woods and fired two shots at Hill when Hill raised his gun in Jenkins' direction. Hill returned at least four shots, Jenkins said.

Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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