DECATUR — Dennis Kendall, the 32-year-old man police say shot Decatur police detective Jason Hesse in the leg Jan. 11 during a raid on his home, believed he was being robbed, Macon County Public Defender Rodney Forbes indicated during a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
“Did the defendant indicate that he’d been a recent victim of home invasion when he was robbed in his residence (in late 2012),” Forbes asked Decatur police detective Chad Larner during cross-examination.
“Detective Joe Patton interviewed him,” Larner replied.
“And did he (Kendall) say he thought he may have been being robbed again that day?” Forbes asked.
Larner admitted he had not yet read Patton’s report but said he had learned that Kendall had called 911 as police were trying to gain entry to his residence.
“He (Kendall) indicated to the dispatcher that someone was trying to gain access to his house and that he’d fired a shot,” Larner said. “The dispatcher then told him that it was the police at the door, and he said he’d be surrendering.”
At 6:35 a.m. Jan. 11, officers of the department’s Emergency Response Team and Street Crimes unit were executing a narcotics search warrant at the home of the 32-year-old, who police knew to have a semiautomatic handgun.
During questioning by Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott, Larner testified that as police arrived at the residence in the 900 block of North Taylor Avenue, they knocked at the front door and announced, “Police, search warrant” in a loud and clear manner.
“Did anyone come to the door,” Scott asked.
“No,” said Larner, who noted that after giving Kendall “more than a reasonable amount of time” to respond, police attempted to force entry into the house using breaching tools but were unable to enter. “They (the Emergency Response officers) encountered structural resistance.”
As police continued trying to breach entry, a shot was fired from the front door, which exited the residence, hit a porch rail and then struck Hesse, an eight-year veteran of the department and a detective in the Street Crimes unit, fracturing the tibia of his right leg.
Larner said Kendall later opened his door and was taken into custody without further incident, adding that after receiving a search warrant for the home, police found wooden planking that Kendall had used to fortify the door of his house.
Additionally, police found a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that contained an inserted magazine with two unspent 9 mm cartridges and one unspent cartridge in the firing chamber of the weapon, a large amount of ammunition, 51 grams of cannabis, three boxes of unused sandwich bags and a functioning digital scale.
Larner said after being read his Miranda rights, Kendall admitted to firing a round through his front door, possessing cannabis in his residence and fortifying his house.
“How long was it between the police announcing their presence and when they attempted to breach the residence?” Forbes asked.
“It was more than a reasonable amount of time,” Larner said.
“But how long?” Forbes asked again. “Was it more than a minute?”
“No,” said Larner, stating that it was more like seconds.
Forbes also asked Larner if police had any indication that Kendall heard them announce themselves at his house.
“Was there any evidence to indicate he (Kendall) heard you?” he asked.
“There was no specific evidence except the round that was fired out the front door,” Larner said.
Reading Patton’s report after the hearing, Larner said Kendall did indicate to Patton that he thought someone was trying to break into his home as police attempted to gain entry. “He thought he was being robbed again.”
Larner said the fact that police knew Kendall had a handgun in his possession was what prompted them to try to enter his home shortly after announcing their presence.
“We had a knock-and-announce warrant,” he said, “and we gave him (Kendall) a reasonable amount of time to give a verbal response. With the intelligence we had (that Kendall had a handgun) prior to delivering the warrant, there were some extenuating circumstances there.”
Kendall, who is in the Macon County Jail on $2 million bond, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six charges, including attempted first-degree murder, armed violence, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful possession of cannabis with the intent to deliver and criminal fortification of a residence of business.
He is scheduled to appear in court March 23 for a pretrial hearing.