LAWRENCEVILLE -- On the fringes of a chaotic scene, Cpl. Paul Phillips mistook the man accused of derailing his law enforcement ambitions with a single bullet as an ally.
Phillips, freshly relieved from an off-duty job at an Alpharetta school, was headed home Feb. 1, 2008, for a ham sandwich, when a motorist flagged him down and warned of an armed man assaulting people up the road, near Phillips' Sugar Hill home. Phillips engaged the bar of blue lights atop his Fulton County police cruiser and headed in, he testified Wednesday.
Phillips told jurors he came within feet of Jay Dailey, then a Duluth police officer who'd knocked off work a few hours prior, and felt a sense of kinship.
"I raised my left arm in hail ... to let him know I was there to help," Phillips testified.
Phillips said Dailey made a tactical move referred to as "slicing the pie" and fired his weapon, hitting Phillips' raised arm, knocking him back. Phillips traded gunfire, aiming the trajectory of shots to hit woods, not houses, should he have missed, he said.
Phillips ran back to his car, where two more shots blasted through the windshield, peppering him with glass. Bleeding badly, Phillips felt tunnel vision set in. He could hear high tones but not the blast of guns, could see gray plumes from his opponent's muzzle and the slide jut back, the tinkling of brass on concrete, he testified.
Then the opponent stopped, his firearm either jammed or starved for bullets, Phillips recalled.
Once the shooting subsided, Phillips told his assailant: "If he didn't come to me with his hands like Jesus', I'd make his head a (expletive) canoe," he testified in Dailey's trial Wednesday.
Phillips put out a 63 call for help -- the most dire in police code, an officer down call -- on his car radio. The sleeve of his police jacket gushed blood, and "a triangle" of bone fragment tumbled out as he struggled to grip consciousness, he testified.
Phillips underwent nine hours of surgery that night, and has endured five surgeries since. The fingers in his left hand have no individual function, effectively reducing the hand to a "pincher." He's unable to rotate the palm, he told jurors.
"Did this incident, with this individual, end your law enforcement career?" District Attorney Danny Porter quizzed Phillips, referring to the defendant.
"Yes, sir," Phillips replied. "It did."
In later testimony, the first officer on scene, Gwinnett police Officer J. Ashe, told jurors he handcuffed Dailey near Phillips' car and found two more small guns and ammunition magazines tucked in his pants.
Dailey said in no uncertain terms that he was the sole perpetrator, Ashe testified.
"He told me he'd messed up and to just go ahead and shoot him in the head," Ashe said.
Dailey faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted of all counts, which include aggravated assault against a peace officer, terroristic threats and battery for allegedly shooting Phillips and attacking bystanders.
Attorneys have said Dailey had long battled depression and alcoholism and went berserk that day after downing a large quantity of vodka. Prosecutors say 21 shots were exchanged -- 17 by Dailey, who was shot in the hand.
Phillips, 39, is on full disability retirement from the Fulton County force.
Day three of the trial is expected today.