Crime

Gunman claims amnesia and wife says she was in a drunken blackout during shooting

Derek David of Louisiana is captured on security video brandishing a gun on Charles St. March 21, 2016, and firing toward people on Duval Street. He says he was defending himself and his wife from strangers who started fighting them.
Derek David of Louisiana is captured on security video brandishing a gun on Charles St. March 21, 2016, and firing toward people on Duval Street. He says he was defending himself and his wife from strangers who started fighting them.

A Louisiana couple behind a March 2016 shooting steps from Duval Street in Key West can’t recall anything about the incident because she was in a drunken blackout and he, the gunman, has amnesia from being struck in the head by a passerby, according to testimony this week.

What prosecutors call attempted murder on three innocent bystanders, wounded when Derek David fired his .380 handgun toward Duval Street in the early hours of March 21, 2016, the defense team says is a case of self defense that doesn’t warrant criminal charges.

In court Thursday for a motion-to-dismiss hearing, Jodie David testified that she and her husband went out to dinner and drinks March 20, 2016, and hit Caroline’s restaurant.

“I don’t remember anything that happened after Caroline’s,” she testified Thursday before Judge Wayne Miller at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West.

Miller will rule after both sides deliver written closing arguments due Wednesday.

Derek David said, “Absolutely not,” when asked whether he was drunk that night and he was only helping his wife who was having trouble holding her liquor when bystanders mistakenly thought he was battering the petite woman.

Jodie David said she was in a blackout caused by too many margaritas and then shots at the Hard Rock Cafe and the Bull bar. But after watching surveillance videos from that late night, she said it’s clear she was having one of her ugly drunken episodes in which she harasses her husband.

“I can have a tendency to get violent toward my husband,” she said, adding later she hasn’t had a drink since the incident that sent her husband to jail. “It’s not provoked; it’s just me lashing out. I think I even grabbed him by the testicles at one point.”

About 1:30 minutes into one black and white video, Jodie David can be seen wildly throwing punches at an unidentified man.

Moments later, her husband Derek David who had earlier walked away from the group toward Telegraph Lane, stumbles back to the scene on Charles Street, which leads to Duval Street, with a handgun pointed into the air.

“At this juncture, Mr. David was statutorily entitled to defend himself and his wife from further bodily harm,” his lawyers wrote in the motion demanding the charges be tossed.

Derek David was only protecting his wife from passersby who apparently tried to intervene in what appeared to as a public display of domestic battery, his lawyers said. The stocky, tall Louisiana man may have looked the part of the aggressor but Jodie David said she was the one, a 5-foot-tall, 100-pound instigator.

“It appears I’m having one of these episodes where I just get angry for no reason,” Jodie David said of the video footage she reviewed.

Derek David ran away after firing his gun into a crowd, prosecutors said, striking three men. Police used a Taser stun gun to take him into custody.

“He’s been pointing it up in the air and shooting it,” according to a 911 caller. “It’s a little pistol.”

He had a concealed carry permit at the time but prosecutors say he was drunk as well. Six months earlier, a Key West police officer confiscated the same handgun from David after finding him drunk and angry on Duval Street, claiming his friend had borrowed his pickup without permission.

That gun was soon returned to David.

Also Thursday, defense attorneys Dustin Hunter and Donald Barrett presented an emergency room physician from Stanford University in California, Dr. Gregory Gilbert.

Gilbert said David could have been suffering from a “closed head injury” after being struck by an unidentified man in a fedora hat, which was captured on security video from the nearby Red Garter strip club. Derek David is knocked to the ground by the head punch from the fedora man, who then punches him in the jaw, the video shows.

“It was the back of the head,” Gilbert pointed out, saying that is the most dangerous place on the skull to be struck since there is only a plate of bone protecting the brain.

Under cross-examination by Assistant Monroe County State Attorney Val Winter, Gilbert agreed he couldn’t diagnose David, who he hasn’t met, and that alcohol could be a factor in one’s behavior.

“There is no one who medically examined him,” Winter said, adding that no doctor can diagnose David at this point.

“That is a fair statement,” Gilbert replied. “It’d be medical fraud, too.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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