The Taurus .45 caliber pistol used to kill Philadelphia Police Officer Patrick McDonald sat on a table in U.S. District Court yesterday as the man charged with illegally transporting it from South Carolina went on trial. The case may go to the jury today.
Stephen Lashley, 32, is charged buying the weapon in South Carolina in mid-2007, then bringing it to Philadelphia.
On Sept. 23, 2008, the weapon was used by another man, Daneel Giddings, 27, to kill McDonald after the officer pulled him over for a traffic stop. Giddings fled on foot.
He had been paroled from jail a month earlier, and was already wanted on a new criminal charge when McDonald, 30, gave chase. Police say they believe Giddings did not want to return to jail.
Police responding to the shooting confronted Giddings, who opened fire and was fatally shot when police returned fire.
Lashley is not facing any charges in connection with McDonald's death. "We have absolutely no evidence linking him to Giddings," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlene Fisk.
It has not yet been determined from whom Giddings obtained the Taurus, law enforcement officials said.
But Lashley has a criminal record for drugs in New York state, and it is illegal for a felon to possess or carry a handgun across state lines. Testimony indicated that Lashley purchased the Taurus and a second weapon, a .40 caliber Beretta, from a South Carolina man, Jason Mack, and transported the guns to Philadelphia.
McDonald's sister, Megan, was in court yesterday, watching the proceedings. A third-year law student at Drexel University, she will seek to become a prosecutor after graduation. That was her plan before her brother's death, "but now I'm certainly more driven toward it," she said.
ATF agent Adam Cameron told jurors the Taurus was imported from Brazil to Miami, and then distributed to a wholesaler.
At some point it arrived at the Lancaster, S.C., pawn shop, where it was purchased by Mack, said a second agent, David Ford. Mack is serving a 36-month sentence for lying on the federal fire arm forms that must be filled out for most gun sales.
The Beretta was also used in a Philadelphia crime, an April 2008 carjacking.