In golf speak, it was moving day at the Courthouse Annex on Wednesday as opposing attorneys for and against Bryan Scott Sharp rested their cases, with the jury poised to ponder his guilt or innocence when they return Thursday.
Sharp, 61, is on trial in Judge Dib Waldrip’s 433rd District Court on several felony counts of aggravated assault against a public servant, attempted capital murder of a peace officer and more connected with his wounding of Comal County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Eddy Luna on August 20, 2020.
It was the third time Luna and Deputy Nick Nolte had come to Sharp’s Spring Branch residence in the 1400 block of Springwood to deliver a bond revocation warrant related to a 2018 charge of evading Bulverde police with a vehicle.
Testifying in his own defense, Sharp said he was shielding himself from “jack-booted thugs” seeking to deny his freedom in a world shut-in by the COVID-19 pandemic. After two days of testimony from three state witnesses, the defense took their turn, but after only 20 minutes it was clear they couldn’t muster enough evidence for an argument of self-defense.
Waldrip chastised defense attorneys Samuel and Eric Rosen for not providing why Sharp acted out of necessity and self-defense, not providing evidence or testimony that illustrated that Luna’s and Nolte’s actions violated CCSO policies, which instead prepared and protected them during armed conflicts.
The defense couldn’t refute that both officers were trained to expect the unexpected — especially from someone who might be holding a loaded shotgun behind a closed front door.
Sharp took the stand in his own defense. He flatly denied claims that the officers were not ready to fire on him, despite body-cam footage showing both with hands on weapons that were not drawn.
“I looked him in the eye and then the shot went off,” Sharp said of Luna, who fell to the ground after the blast that would take away part of his right arm. “I looked him in the eye and then the shot went off,” Sharp said of Luna, who fell to the ground after the blast that would take away part of his right arm.
Luna, now wearing a prosthetic, has shined as the state’s star witness during the three-day trial to determine Sharp’s fate. If convicted, he faces probation, or 5 to 99 years to life in prison.
After the 31-year lawman finished testifying Tuesday, Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp and Assistant Criminal District Attorney Daniel Floyd called his brother, Rene, a CCSO warrants deputy, to the stand.
Rene Luna tearfully testified to saving his brother’s life with a tourniquet after the shooting. Next up was Nolte, who testified yelling a warning to his partner, who couldn’t get out of the way.
Sharp, whose two-story stone residence is without electricity, running water or phone, denied being there when the officers tried to serve warrants on the other occasions. He said there was no call for them to beat down his front door without him being able to see paperwork.
“It was a frightening thing,” Sharp said, adding he never meant to harm to Luna in defending himself. “They were jack-booted thugs outside of my house.
“From what I saw the warrant was invalid. I figured they were trying to come out to the house at some point and I (wrote Sheriff Mark Reynolds) that you can come all you want, but you better have your paperwork straight.”
Sharp said he knew that the sledgehammer used to pound his door was exactly that, but denied Floyd’s claim that he knew the officers weren’t shooting at him. Floyd played Nolte’s body-cam, which showed the officers with hands on their guns but not aiming at Sharp. Just after Nolte kicked the door open, his camera focused on Sharp pointing the shotgun.
“I was looking him in the eyes when it just went off,” said Sharp, who said he still feared for his when he laid down outside the residence.
It showed Nolte and Rene Luna rushing to tend to Eddy, lying bleeding profusely from pellets that decimated his right forearm,, attached to the hand by a strip of skin.
“Eddy didn’t need to lose his arm,” Eric Rosen said. “They could’ve just said, ‘Here’s the warrant ... post your bond and go home.’ But they didn’t take that tact.
“Instead they let it escalate, escalate and escalate,” Rosen said, referring to the charge of evading police for six blocks.
Sharp said he penned a letter, warning Reynolds not to come after him.
“I wrote the sheriff ahead of time and said, ‘If this is where you’re headed, watch out,’” he testified, “You better have all your ducks in a row.”
To which Floyd responded, “Or you’re gonna shoot a cop, right?”
Because of Sharp’s testimony, Waldrip could order the jury to consider self-defense in some or all of the six charges against him — and could affect the verdicts dramatically.
After both sides rested, Waldrip sent the jury home at 3:20 p.m. and then began discussing the jury charge, which he wants ready when jurors return at 9 a.m. Thursday.