Court Security

Reports: Judge Pulls Gun on Crutch-Swinging Defendant, Who Is Then Shot By Cop in Ala. Courtroom


Unhappy about a judge’s jail sentence or fine in a misdemeanor harassment case, a defendant recovering from a broken hip with a cast on his leg reportedly began swinging his crutches in a courtroom at the Goodwater, Ala., city hall today and was shot in the abdomen and side by a police officer for the small town.

Authorities say the man, identified as Brian or Bryant Keith Ford, attacked the judge and tried to grab a firearm. However, some witnesses say he only swung his crutch, was unarmed and didn’t appear to be going for a weapon, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Defense attorney Bill Denson was in the courtroom at the time but does not represent Ford. He says the defendant started to walk away from Municipal Judge Carlton Teel after he pronounced sentence, but then turned around and approached the bench, shouting and “slinging that crutch over his head like a baseball bat.”

The Associated Press says the judge pulled his gun after Ford began reacting to the sentence. Then “the guy came over the bench at him trying to get it,” says attorney Keith Warren, who was in court, too, on behalf of another individual. “He just literally got in the judge’s face, then backed off and started swinging the crutch at the judge.”

Denson also said Ford went for the judge’s gun before he was shot by the police officer.

Ford has been hospitalized. His condition has been variously reported as critical and serious.

The judge’s brother, Frank Teel, is a lawyer as well. He says he has been told that the judge is all right, although he hasn’t talked with him directly, and that an aide to the judge suffered powder burns, the AP reports.

The harassment case that brought Ford to the courtroom reportedly concerned a neighbor who said Ford had cursed at her in December after accusing her of talking about him to police. One witness said the judge fined Ford $800 after convicting following a 5-minute bench trial, according to the AP. However, the Advertiser says he was sentenced to an unspecified jail term.

The shooting is being reviewed by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

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