During cross-examination, the San Diego police officer charged with shooting an angry driver and her son during a road rage incident testified that he felt in control of the situation.
Frank White is on trial facing felony weapons violations stemming from an off-duty confrontation with Rachel Silva in an Oceanside parking lot in March 2008. He faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.
Silva was driving with her 8-year old son in the car when she allegedly became involved in a road rage incident with White, who was driving with his wife.
White told the jury Tuesday that he had no idea why Rachel Silva was tailgating him so aggressively. He said when she followed his car into the Lowe's parking lot, with her tires screeching and engine revving, he and his wife were both scared.
White says he was worried that the person following him may have been a dangerous criminal he had arrested during his work as a San Diego police officer.
He says he was so scared that his "heart jumped into his throat" and his "face was flushed."
Silva and her son were shot but recovered. She is expected to plead the Fifth Amendment if called to testify, given the legal problems she still faces for her alleged role in the incident.
The boy, now 10, testified last week that he heard his mother screaming at the time the incident took place. He testified that he saw the man with the gun pointing at him and he described "curling up" and telling his mother the man had a gun.
During his testimony Tuesday, White also recalled the moments before the shooting saying that the first time he saw Rachel Silva behind the wheel, she looked "enraged... The veins on her neck" were popping out "like a horror movie, how enraged and angry this person was," he said.
White said Silva "looked high" on methamphetamine. "If this person had a chance to kill me," he told the jury, "They're gonna kill me, because they're out of their mind."
White testified that he felt "devastated, awful" when he learned he had shot Silva's son. He said the son was "an innocent victim" and it would have been "terrible" if the boy suffered major injuries because of the shots he fired into Silva's car.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Jeff Dusek continually questioned White about his training as a police officer, asking if training of instances where non-deadly force is an option and the proper procedure when handling an unruly suspect didn't jump to mind when he was confronted by Silva.
“Did it ever cross your mind that I should get out of this car to get control of this situation?” Dusek asked. White testified that he didn’t think of that.
Dusek used a map of the parking lot where the shooting occurred to discuss what options White had to get away from Silva. White testified that he didn’t have the time to think of some of those options.
At one point, Dusek questioned White's frame of mind at the time of the shooting.
“You panicked,” said Dusek.
“No sir,” said White.
“You were under control?” asked Dusek.
“I felt I was under control,” said White.