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Brothers held for trial in cop's GameStop slaying

The younger brother, Ramone Williams, allegedly fired the first shot at Officer Robert Wilson III.

Officer Robert Wilson: Slain.
Officer Robert Wilson: Slain.Read moreFile photo

IT WAS THE YOUNGER of two brothers who announced a robbery at a GameStop in North Philly who first began firing at Police Officer Robert Wilson III, prosecutors said yesterday.

But both brothers - Ramone Williams, 25, and Carlton Hipps, 29 - fired at the officer, and more than the first shot was potentially lethal, prosecutors said.

Williams and Hipps, both of Hollywood Street near Stiles in Brewerytown, yesterday waived their preliminary hearing in a standing-room-only courtroom filled with police officers in blue, other cops and the slain officer's family, including his grandmother, sister and brother.

Wilson, 30, had gone into the GameStop store, on Lehigh Avenue near 21st Street, about 5 p.m. March 5 to buy a gift for his older son, who was about to turn 10.

Assistant District Attorneys Brian Zarallo and Brendan O'Malley summarized the evidence they have in the case before Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni and afterward, outside the Criminal Justice Center, before a throng of reporters.

A video inside the store showed "Officer Wilson in uniform at the counter, in a fairly relaxed conversation, and within a second, he has his gun out and he's engaged in a firefight with two hooded individuals that enter the store with the intention of committing a robbery," Zarallo said.

Evidence showed that Williams, who entered the store just before Hipps, fired at the officer first, Zarallo said. Wilson fired back, and Hipps also began to shoot, the prosecutor said.

"Police Officer Wilson is in the corner," Zarallo said. "He has no cover whatsoever."

While the gunbattle raged on, seven civilians crouched down, hiding, fearing for their lives behind the counter, Zarallo said.

After Wilson collapsed, Hipps and Williams ran outside the store. There, Wilson's 22nd District partner, Officer Damien Stevenson, who had gotten out of his patrol car after he heard gunshots, engaged in a gunbattle with Hipps, and was able to shoot him in the leg and incapacitate him, prosecutors said.

Williams ran back into the store and tried to hide behind the counter and blend in, telling the civilians: "Say I'm with you. Say I'm with you," Zarallo said.

They didn't do that, and instead pointed Williams out to a cop who was the first to arrive as backup.

The prosecutors said that although the first shot, which went into Wilson's right eye and lodged in the back of his head, was determined to be immediately lethal, other shots that hit him, allegedly fired by both defendants, were also potentially lethal.

A second shot, believed to have been fired by Hipps, hit the officer on the top of his head, O'Malley said. And when the officer was down, each defendant fired a shot into the officer's back, O'Malley said. Wilson was also hit two more times as he lay facedown, in an arm and the buttocks, for a total of six shots, prosecutors said.

In all, 39 cartridge casings were recovered inside and outside the store, Zarallo said. Fourteen came from a Ruger fired by Williams, while seven came from a Glock 23 fired by Hipps, he said.

Twelve were fired from Wilson's .45-caliber Glock, while the remaining six were fired by Stevenson, who had a .40-caliber Glock, Zarallo said.

District Attorney Seth Williams, who was in court, said afterward: "The city is still mourning the loss of Sergeant Wilson," who was posthumously promoted.

The D.A. said he has not yet decided whether his office will pursue the death penalty against the defendants.

Hipps, still injured from the leg wound he suffered in the shooting, walked into the courtroom with crutches.

The judge held both defendants for trial on all charges, including murder, robbery, conspiracy and related charges.

Andres Jalon, Williams' attorney, and Michael Coard, Hipps' attorney, said afterward that their clients waived the hearing to spare Wilson's family the heartache of having to view the video of the slain officer's demise and because prosecutors had enough evidence to go to trial.

"I feel horrible for the [cop's] family. This is a very tragic case," Jalon said.

"The video is extremely graphic," Coard said.

Coard, as did Jalon and the prosecutors, described Wilson's actions as heroic.

"Here is a gentleman who is not only firing back," Coard said, "but moving away from the customers to take on the fire."

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