A veteran Nassau County police officer struggled with his emotions Friday as he recalled the horror of watching his partner get gunned down in front of him.
Officer Clarence Hudson, testifying in County Court in Mineola, said he was behind the wheel of an Emergency Service Unit truck during a 2012 traffic stop on the Nassau-Queens border.
His partner approached the driver, who, standing outside his car, fired once at close range. The bullet hit the chest of Officer Arthur Lopez, who staggered back to the police vehicle as the suspect sped away in a crippled Honda sedan.
"I'm shot," Lopez said, before falling to the ground, Hudson told the jury.
Those were Lopez's last words, the witness said. The confrontation near the southbound entrance to the Cross Island Parkway, just south of Jamaica Avenue, was over quickly -- Hudson estimated it lasted just five seconds.
The accused cop-killer, Darrell Fuller, 34, faces a life prison term if convicted of first-degree murder.
Fuller, of St. Albans, Queens, is also accused of fatally shooting Robert Facey, 58, of Brooklyn, on the parkway, minutes after killing Lopez on Oct. 23, 2012.
Facey had pulled over to take a cellphone call, and prosecutors say Fuller yanked Facey from his Toyota Camry, shot him and stole the car.
During his 90 minutes on the witness stand, Hudson, a 19-year veteran of the force, frequently took deep breaths, exhaling through pursed lips. He hung his head as he listened to an audio recording of Lopez calling in to update a dispatcher on the progress of the car chase.
As Hudson identified Fuller as the man who shot his partner, Lopez's sister, Charo Ramos of Westchester County, sobbed. About two-dozen off-duty officers and relatives of the victims were in the courtroom for the emotional testimony.
During the traffic stop, Hudson said Lopez, 29, of Babylon Village, grabbed a Taser from the ESU truck, opting not to take a shotgun from a rack or use his handgun.
Hudson said his partner took a few steps toward the Honda, turned back to the police vehicle, then turned back to the Honda again.
"I saw the defendant fumbling near his waist," he testified. "Then I heard a pop. It wasn't that loud at the time, and I didn't really associate it with a gunshot. I really don't know why."
Hudson told the jury he rushed to his partner and radioed for an ambulance and other police units.
Lopez, lying in the street, was still breathing.
"I attempted to communicate with him. He was not responsive. He did not answer," Hudson said, hanging his head.
The officers had chased the Honda down the parkway from Northern Boulevard, where it had been involved in a accident.
At one point they were side-by-side with the Honda and were pointing at the shoulder of the road, indicating the driver should pull over, Hudson said, but the driver ignored them.
As he left court, Hudson hugged James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.
"I think with Clarence testifying today you could see the pain in his face and in his voice describing a series of events that led to Artie's death," Carver said.