Former Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Gordon was shot center mass in the chest on Oct. 24, 2015.
His department-issued body armor was all that prevented the 9 mm pistol round from entering his heart and very likely killing him.
"I did not know what happened," Gordon told Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne Monday at the Plantation Key courthouse during the opening day of the first-degree attempted murder trial for Timothy Thomas.
"It knocked the wind out of me," Gordon said. "I did not know whether the vest did its job"
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Thomas, 27, and Gordon exchanged gunfire that night around 9:30 after a brief car chase on Stock Island. Thomas' attorney, Kevin McCarthy, said his client is innocent and Gordon fired on him first.
Jurors Monday were shown dashboard camera footage from Gordon's Monroe County Sheriff's Office car that shows Thomas exit his Ford Mustang with his left hand raised. He then quickly ducks back inside his car and emerges with a gun.
Prosecutors Dunne and Gail Conolly say the video clearly shows Thomas fire first as he comes out of the car.
After he was hit, Gordon fell to the street on his back, but quickly sat up returning fire. He emptied all 16 rounds from his .40-caliber Glock 22.
His partner, Sgt. David Lariz, arrived in his car seeing Gordon get shot. He exited his car firing all 14 rounds from his .45-caliber Glock 21.
He told McCarthy during cross-examination that he did not know whether Thomas was firing at him specifically, but he heard shots coming from the Mustang.
"I was there at the scene," he said. "Whether any of them had my name on them, I don't know."
Thomas was shot twice during the shootout — once in the shoulder and once in the back.
Deputies and Key West police were looking for Thomas on Oct. 24, 2015, because he was a suspect in an armed robbery on Flagler Avenue near Key West High School that happened nine days earlier.
Gordon spotted Thomas driving a Ford Mustang as he drove out of Key West. He followed him to Stock Island and ran his license plate, finding out through dispatch that the tag was stolen.
Thomas at one point turned off his headlights and sped down Second Street. That's when Gordon switched on his emergency lights, and when the dash cam automatically activated.
Thomas, driving 75 mph down a 25 mph zone, lost control of his car, getting it stuck between a stop sign and fence on Sunshine Street and Third Avenue.
Gordon parked his car directly behind the Mustang. Footage shows the car rocking back and forth, Thomas trying to dislodge the vehicle.
Gordon is seen and heard, gun drawn, ordering Thomas to show him his hands before the gun battle began.
According to testimony from Gordon and Lariz, Thomas freed his car and drove off, continuing to fire his weapon. Gordon, who is now a deputy with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office, retrieved his AR-15 rifle from his trunk and fired three rounds at the Mustang.
Thomas escaped that night, but surrendered the next day in Key West after a brief standoff. His cousin, David Gray, Sr., 50, called an officer he knew in the Key West Police Department saying he could get Thomas to turn himself in.
"He's like my son," Gray said on the stand Monday.
Thomas contacted Gray on Oct. 25, and Gray said he tried talking him into surrendering to Key West Police, and not Monroe County Sheriff's Office, because Thomas said deputies with the latter agency would kill him. Thomas asked Gray and his son, David Gray, Jr., 30, to meet him at a house on Von Phister Street. He asked him to bring a screwdriver.
Key West PD Detective Darnell Sealey told Gray not to go to the house without police, but he and his son drove their scooters there anyway. Once police realized the location of the house where Thomas was holed up, which he broke in to, they surrounded it, with Gray coming outside to act as a mediator.
Sealey spoke with Thomas on the phone and convinced him he needed medical attention for his gunshot wounds, which he bandaged up with duct tape. He eventually came outside and was cuffed by police.
But, although the surrender was non-violent, it did not happen without incident. Before leaving the house, David Gray, Sr., gave his son a backpack. The younger Gray climbed the fence in the back yard. On the other side were awaiting deputies, Key West police officers and an FBI agent.
Inside the backpack was a 9 mm Glock magazine, almost 72 grams of marijuana, nine bags containing a total of 5.4 grams of powdered cocaine, 1.9 grams of crack cocaine and about 13 grams of amphetamines. David Gray, Jr. was charged with multiple felony drug counts, which were exacerbated because he was caught within 1,000 feet of the Key West Church of Christ, according to court documents.
Prosecutors dropped the charges in March of this year.