Thirty-four seconds after authorities say a Farmingville man pulled into a gas station to sell cocaine to an undercover sheriff's deputy, he was flat on his back with four gunshot wounds, a video played Wednesday at his trial shows.
In addition to drug charges, Nicholas Hansen, 23, is charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing at police during the Aug. 11, 2011, sting. Suffolk prosecutors say he tried to kill one of the officers there to arrest him, but Hansen's attorney has argued that because police didn't identify themselves and pointed guns at him first, he thought he was being robbed and was defending himself.
Jurors Wednesday watched a video of the incident from the Mobil station at Exit 61 of the Long Island Expressway and listened to a separate audio recording of it. In the video, Hansen pulls up next to a car driven by Deputy Sheriff Investigator Herb Laxton, the undercover officer. While Laxton is counting out $4,000 for the cocaine, the video shows an unmarked minivan block the two cars at one end while an unmarked white car blocks them at the other.
"What the ---- is this, brother?" Laxton exclaims on the audiotape. During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Beth Creighton, he said the plan was for officers to put him in handcuffs too, so his cover wouldn't be blown.
Even before the minivan stops rolling, New York State Police Investigator Kevin Ring can be seen opening the door with his gun drawn and immediately getting into a shooting position. Hansen scrambles out of his car with a gun and is heard yelling, "Kill me! Just kill me!"
Then there is an exchange of gunfire and Hansen is knocked off his feet. No one else was shot. From the time the minivan entered the video until Hansen landed on the ground, nine seconds elapsed.
Laxton said that when he saw Hansen had a gun, "I just thought, please don't turn in my direction."
In the preceding months, Laxton testified he had purchased ever increasing amounts of cocaine from Hansen, working up to the planned 100-gram sale that day. On recordings earlier that day, Hansen was worried about being set up for a robbery, and Laxton told him he was, too.
During cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon, Laxton said he didn't hear any officers identify themselves or yell that this was an arrest. All he heard -- and all that's audible on the recording just before the gunfire -- was officers yelling "Down! Down!" He also said he didn't see anyone wearing shields or anything else identifying them as police.
While going through the video frame by frame, Laxton agreed with Keahon that Ring was in a shooting position even before Hansen was fully out of his car.