The 37-year-old man charged in the shooting of the New York City police officer Brian Moore during an encounter in Queens Village in 2015 was convicted on Thursday of murder.
The 12 jurors, who began reviewing evidence on Wednesday, delivered their verdict against the defendant, Demetrius Blackwell after about five hours of deliberations. As the verdict was read, ending a nearly three-week trial, the father of the slain officer looked at the ceiling, his eyes closed, as those around him bowed their heads inside the windowless courtroom, presided over by Justice Gregory L. Lasak of State Supreme Court in Queens.
Mr. Blackwell, who was dressed in a white button-down shirt and black slacks, turned and whispered, “I love you,” to a man and a woman in the gallery behind him. Court officers led him away, his hands cuffed behind him.
Though the shooting occurred more than two years ago, on May 2, 2015, it still haunts Officer Moore’s colleagues at the 105th Precinct station house and throughout the Police Department.
Rank-and-file officers filled the courtroom Thursday, where Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and Robert K. Boyce, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, also took seats on the wooden benches. Most were in uniform, but some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “In Memory of P.O. Brian Moore.” They stayed silent, but began hugging and shaking hands as the jury was dismissed. They spilled outside to merge with dozens more officers in the hallway.
“It just shows what I’ve known all along,” Officer Moore’s father, Raymond, a retired city officer, said of the verdict as he stood outside the courthouse next to Mr. Lynch and before a sea of blue uniforms. “However, when I go home today, although this is a good day and a good verdict, Brian is still not going to be there at my house when I get home.”
For Mr. Blackwell, who was taken into custody at a house near the shooting after an intensive 90-minute search by police officers that May evening, the case played out on the same residential streets where he had played sports with other children as a boy and where he still lived.
His lawyer, David A. Bart, had tried to convince jurors that the prosecution had not proved his client’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With a single defense witness, a neuropsychologist, Mr. Bart argued that even if the jury found Mr. Blackwell responsible for the officer’s death, the jurors find him guilty of a lesser charge given his severe epilepsy and “compromised brain.” For such a defense, the onus was on Mr. Bart to show that his client’s condition diminished his ability to form intent.
After the verdict Mr. Bart said he planned to appeal the decision and order a new battery of psychiatric exams for Mr. Blackwell. “I’m very disappointed,” said Mr. Bart. “I wish I could have done a better job for him.”
The jury of seven women and five men found Mr. Blackwell guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder of Officer’s Moore’s partner, Erik Jansen, and criminal possession of a weapon. They rejected Mr. Bart’s argument that Mr. Blackwell suffered from extreme emotional disturbance.
At a news conference after the verdict, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said the killing of Officer Moore, “reminds us at all times of the dangers our police officers face and the tough time that they have during their tours of duty.”
In its deliberations, the jury asked to review two items: Mr. Blackwell’s medical records and the testimony of Officer Moore’s partner, Officer Jansen. Mr. Blackwell, who did not testify, faces life in prison without parole.
For him, it is a culmination of an adulthood marked by drug abuse and arrests. He served five years in prison for an attempted murder in 2000. In May 2013, he was arrested on charges of assault and attempted grand larceny. The next year, the police said, he brandished a gun and hurled rocks at a nearby home before smashing the windshield of a parked car with a brick.
On the evening of the shooting in 2015, Officer Moore, 25, and Officer Jansen were patrolling in plainclothes in an unmarked sedan looking for burglary suspects. They noticed the man Officer Jansen later testified was Mr. Blackwell, who looked up at them as he was crossing 212th Street and appeared to be trying to hide something. The officers slowly trailed him in their car, eastbound along 104th Road. Officer Moore was driving. Mr. Saunders said each officer was wearing a bullet-resistant vest and both had their police badges around their necks outside their clothes.
They drove up on the wrong side of the road to question Mr. Blackwell, but before they could step from their car, he turned and raised a silver five-shot revolver with his left hand five feet from Officer Moore and fired.
The first shot hit Officer Moore in the left temple; the second hit a door and then lodged below his right eye; the third sailed over the police car’s roof and hit a house Mr. Blackwell had lived in as a child.
“Did he know they were police officers?” Mr. Saunders said in his closing arguments. “Why would he shoot them?” He added: “Brian Moore was killed because he was a police officer. That’s why he shot him. There is no other reason.”
Mr. Saunders said once Officer Moore was shot, he had no chance to survive, though his colleagues rushed him to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. He died there two days after the shooting.