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Alleged Kmart shooter pleads not guilty

Jamie Willard, 30, is accused of grabbing officer's pistol and firing at two while handcuffed.

July 23, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, burbankleader@latimes.com

The homeless man accused of shooting two police officers outside a busy Kmart earlier this month pleaded not guilty today to two counts of attempted murder.

Police say Jamie Willard managed to reach around, grab an officer's gun and begin firing despite being handcuffed behind his back outside the Kmart on July 2.

Willard answered to the charges in a Burbank courtroom after a two-week postponement. He showed no emotion in the courtroom as his attorney stood close by to advise and monitor his answers.

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Willard, 30, had been detained by security guards outside the San Fernando Boulevard store because they suspected he had stolen DVDs, but a scuffle broke out when police arrived to take him into custody.

Officer Alex Gutierrez was shot repeatedly in the chest, but was protected by his bulletproof vest. A bullet fragment ricocheted and hit his leg. He was released from the hospital to recover at home.

Officer Derek Green was shot in his hand and is expected to recover from multiple operations. He also hurt his leg.

Willard, of Gresham, Ore., was Tasered during the incident and treated for cuts and scrapes.

He continues to be held in lieu of $1-million bail.

His attorney on Thursday also challenged the collection of a DNA sample and a request by detectives to sign a release of Willard's medical records.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Patrick Hegarty ordered the prosecution to stay away from Willard while he remains in custody, but reaffirmed his order for the collection of the defendant's DNA.

Willard's preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 23.

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