Table entered as evidence in trial of man shot by police

Michael Rogers charged with assault, resisting arrest
June 27, 2014

A bullet-ridden coffee table at the center of the state's case against a Georgetown man was submitted as evidence June 25 in Sussex County Superior Court.

Seven bullet holes now pierce the cherry coffee table that once sat in the living room where Michael W. Rogers, 53, lives with his mother, Lorraine.

Rogers is charged with second-degree assault of a police officer and resisting arrest; police say he fought with a trooper who had gone to Rogers' home to investigate a traffic accident at a nearby bar.

The table was submitted as evidence on the second day of the state's trial against Rogers. In previous testimony, Cpl. Matthew Morgan said he feared for his life when Rogers came at him, using the coffee table as a weapon.

“All I can recall is seeing a table coming at me,” Morgan testified.

He said he fired seven shots at Rogers in self defense.

At issue is whether the table was on its side on the floor, used by Rogers as a shield from the spray of bullets, as defense attorney Andrew Jezic contends, or held on its end as a potential weapon, as Deputy Attorney General David Hume said.

A jury of 12 with three alternates – all but two of whom are women – will decide the case presided over by Sussex County Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves. One person has been dismissed for personal reasons.

Lorraine Rogers returned to the stand June 25 as a witness to the incident. In a recording of a police interview with her the night of the shooting, she said Morgan entered the home to ask Rogers about an accident earlier that evening at an area bar.

“He kept asking Michael why he left the scene of the accident,” she said in the recording played for the jury.

Lorraine said Rogers did not give Morgan a straight answer; Jezic said in his opening statement that Rogers told Morgan his reason for leaving was private.

“Michael Rogers was simply telling Cpl. Morgan that I have a right not to talk to you,” Jezic said.

The $89 inattentive driving ticket that brought Morgan to Rogers' home at 10 p.m. Aug. 1, 2014, was never filed because of the charges resulting from the ensuing scuffle, Hume said.

Lorraine Rogers testified her son walked toward his bedroom when Morgan shot him with what she later realized was a Taser.

“I saw long, gold-looking prongs coming out of the back of Michael,” she said. He stumbled and walked into his bedroom; Morgan followed, she said.

Morgan said Rogers never threatened him or grabbed for Morgan's weapon. He also said he never gave Rogers any command. Rogers was walking in circles and when Morgan grabbed Rogers' tricep, he became combative, according to an interview given by Morgan Aug. 3, 2013.

“When I hit it, everything changed,” he said.

Lorraine Rogers said she could hear an argument in the bedroom, and when she went in, she saw the two scuffling. Rogers had Morgan in a headlock, and Lorraine said she hit her son to get him to let go.

Once free, Morgan went toward the front of the house, and when Lorraine and Rogers exited the bedroom, she said, Morgan had his gun drawn.

“He was standing there holding that gun waiting for Michael to come out of the bedroom,” Lorraine Rogers said. Outside of the bedroom, Rogers told Morgan not to shoot his mother, she said.

Lorraine said she went into the living room, and Morgan positioned himself at the front door. When Rogers came into the living room from another doorway, Morgan ordered him to show his hands. Rogers did so, but he also flipped a coffee table, knocking everything on it to the floor.

“He flipped the table and stood there when Morgan started shooting,” she said.

Seven bullets hit Rogers; Rogers' sister, Robin Hall, testified that there were three bullet holes in a couch behind him during the shooting. One pierced the skirt of the couch, another was a few inches higher in a seat cushion and the third shredded the right corner, she said.

The trial continued Thursday, June 26, in Sussex County Superior Court in Georgetown.