Eric DeShawn Floyd, arrested in a Southwest Philadelphia hideout five days after the shooting death of Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, apologized to the officer's family in a confession admitting his role in the killing.
"I am not the monster people make me out to be," Floyd said in the statement read into the court record yesterday at a preliminary hearing.
But Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson, noting that codefendant Levon T. Warner quoted Floyd as shouting "bang him" before Liczbinski was shot, rejected the expression of remorse as a ploy by Floyd to deflect responsibility from himself.
After the hearing yesterday, Floyd and Levon T. Warner, who did not know each other's names until after the killing, were ordered to stand trial on charges of murder and a string of crimes in the death of the officer and the bank robbery in Port Richmond that led to it.
Gilson indicated outside court that the defendants had expressed interest in a plea deal, but said, "Right now, I'm not listening to it."
Liczbinski's wife and three children sat through the more than three-hour hearing, weeping when one witness recounted his dying words, and when the officer's voice could be heard on a tape of the radio call of his last pursuit.
"Tell my wife and kids I love them," a tearful Dixie Widing, who witnessed the shooting, testified the officer cried out after he was mortally wounded.
Floyd, of North Philadelphia, and Warner, of West Philadelphia - both ex-convicts - said in separate statements that they joined in a plan hatched by Howard Cain, 34, to rob the Bank of America branch inside a ShopRite at Castor and Aramingo Avenues.
Videotape played at the hearing showed Floyd and Cain disguised as Muslim women in burkas and Warner wearing a dreadlock wig and dust mask inside and outside the store during various stages of the heist about 11:30 a.m. on May 3. Floyd, acting as lookout, wheeled a shopping cart with a box holding a semiautomatic rifle with a banana clip.
Testimony at the hearing, including the alleged confessions of Floyd and Warner, provided this account of events leading up to the shooting:
After taking $40,000, the trio fled in a carjacked Jeep with police, including Liczbinski, in pursuit.
In his statement, Floyd, who was driving, said that when he looked in the rearview mirror, Liczbinski's expression seemed to be saying: "OK, I'm right here; like, all right guys, enough is enough."
When the Jeep stopped at Almond and Schiller Streets in Port Richmond, Liczbinski pulled up behind and got out of his patrol car.
Cain then got out of the front passenger seat of the SUV, aimed the rifle over the roof of the vehicle at the officer, and fired.
In his statement, Floyd said he was "horrified" when he realized what happened.
But Warner said that when they stopped, "the boy that was driving the car started yelling, 'Bang him.' "
The SUV sped away and the trio jumped into a pre-positioned van nearby. The van later pulled over and Floyd and Warner ran while Cain, who stayed with the vehicle, was shot and killed when he tried to shoot at approaching officers. Gilson said Cain's weapon jammed. Warner was arrested soon afterward and Floyd was captured May 8.
Gilson said that Floyd had five days on the run to concoct his account and that his actions told another story.
"When they couldn't shake him, they killed him," the prosecutor said in court.
In his statement, Floyd said he was remorseful and wanted to say he was "sorry to his family and friends."
Detective Thorsten Lucke, who read the statement on the stand, choked up at one point when Floyd admitted his remorse was insufficient.
"It's not going to give back a wife her husband or kids back their father," he quoted Floyd as saying.
"That was one of the most insincere apologies I've ever seen written down on a piece of paper," Gilson said outside court.
While preliminary hearings are required to be set within 10 days after an arrest, Gilson acknowledged they are usually continued to a later date in cases such as this.
Gilson credited the Liczbinski family for being at the hearing so soon after the officer's death and his funeral, which was Friday. "It's hard," he said. " . . . I don't know how they do it."