CRIME

Craig Patterson trial continues: Witnesses describe night of May 22

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - Tarik Irby and Erick Taylor testified in court on Tuesday about what they witnessed from this porch during the early hours of May 22.

Witnesses testify

They say they heard an argument a block away that lasted about 15 minutes, followed by seeing a man later identified as Craig Patterson walking down their street. According to the witnesses, Patterson looked right at them like he had done nothing wrong.

Shortly afterwards, they saw Patterson return, walking quickly towards the scene of the argument.

"But right here, we noticed him fumbling with his clothes, tuck in a weapon, and he makes it around the corner and we heard a shot," said Irby. "It was silent. Only thing you heard was that one shot."

Craig Patterson, 44, called 911, identifying himself as an off-duty Arlington County Deputy who had just shot another man who pulled a knife on him. That victim, 22-year-old Julian Dawkins, died on the scene.

His aunt Deneen Pratt ran outside and on Tuesday told jurors: “I saw my nephew laying face down on the ground.”

Meanwhile, defense attorneys repeatedly questions Dawkins’ girlfriend, Tanea Bynum, about his drinking that night. They referred to a text message she sent him saying in all caps: "YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!!! YOU'RE DRUNK AND YOUR COUSIN NEEDS YOU IN THE MORNING!"

Toxicology reports show that Dawkins had a blood alcohol content of .15 at the time of his death. But Irby and Taylor say nothing justifies what Craig Patterson is accused of doing.

"Hopefully he gets what's coming to him because he straight-up murdered a guy for no reason," said Taylor.

On Wednesday, Craig Patterson told his side of the story and explained to the court that a few hours after work on May 21, he went for a walk around midnight, which was not uncommon.

He left carrying his badge and weapon, which was also not uncommon, according to Patterson.

He said he was approached by Julian Dawkins, who asked who he was and what he was doing in the neighborhood. Patterson said he identified himself as an officer, and this argument followed:

Patterson: I live here...I'll be back!

Dawkins: I told you don't come back around here


Patterson said Dawkins then pulled a knife and chased him. He felt he was in danger and that Dawkins was going to stab him, so Patterson allegedly went to his car to get handcuffs to make an arrest, and when he returned to the scene, he saw Dawkins trying to hide.

"He charged at me and took a swing," Patterson described. "I noticed something in his hand."

A moment later, Patterson drew his weapon and fired one shot.

But during cross examination on Wednesday, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter repeatedly highlighted Patterson’s lack of experience in making street arrests as an Arlington County Deputy and dealing with volatile situations.

On the stand, Patterson admitted he did not have the authority to arrest Dawkins, but at the time thought he did.

Porter also repeatedly and firmly question why Patterson did not call 911 before returning to the scene, to which Patterson replied: "I wanted to have eyes on him first before calling 911."

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