Posted January 23, 2001 | comments Leave a comment

Court gets to hear 911 dispatcher’s tape

By Richard Nash - Daily Staff Writer

Day three of accused Winchester cop killer Edward N. Bell’s capital murder trial gave the court its first chance to hear a 911 dispatcher’s tape of police radio broadcasts recorded before and after the Oct. 29, 1999 shooting death of city Police Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook.

Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul H. Thomson, who is prosecuting the case against Bell, played the tape for the jury first thing Monday morning before calling any witnesses to testify.

Thomson provided the jury with an 11-page transcript of the tape, but Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp warned jurors to trust their own ears over what they read on the printed pages.

“If there is any difference between the transcript and what you’re hearing, you need to go with what you’re hearing,” he said.

The static-filled portion of the tape begins at 11:49 p.m. on Oct. 29 and finishes at 12:10 a.m. on Oct. 30.

The broadcast, which at times is difficult to understand, begins with Timbrook calling for backup as he chases an unidentified man from 365 Woodstock Lane to an alley off East Piccadilly Street.

“Thirty-one [Timbrook’s radio code name] to Winchester,” Timbrook says. “I got a subject running from me on Woodstock Lane wearing a black jacket trimmed in neon white, believe it’s a black male.”

The 911 dispatcher answers Timbrook’s transmission and calls “any units in the area of Woodstock Lane” to respond.

Timbrook, who is breathing heavily, then calls in his location as several units answer his call for help.

The highly decorated officer’s last transmission comes about two minutes into the broadcast as he steps into an alley between 301 and 303 E. Piccadilly St.

“Come to Piccadilly,” he says. “Hold it right there.”

Timbrook then keys his radio three times in about four seconds, transmitting only unintelligible yelling and the sound of heavy breathing.

The next voice on the tape belongs to city police Officer Robert L. Bower, the first officer to arrive on the scene of the shooting.

“Winchester, shots fired,” he says. “We got a man down, man down.”

Several transmissions later, the dispatcher tries to resume radio contact with Timbrook.

Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Ellinger, who at the time was an officer with the city Police Department, then tells the dispatcher that Timbrook is shot.

“Forty-five [Ellinger’s radio code name], Winchester 31’s down,” he says. “Thirty-one’s down in between the 300 block Piccadilly.”

Timbrook, 32, was pronounced dead less than an hour later in the Winchester Medical Center emergency room.

Bell’s trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.

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