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Article updated: 4/18/2013 5:45 AM

Wood Dale cop testifies about shooting intruder

By Josh Stockinger

A Wood Dale police sergeant on Wednesday described how he shot an intruder in his home after being unable to fend off the suspect during a knockdown, drag-out fight.

"He was a much better fighter than I was," Sgt. Michael Peters testified.

Former Harper College wrestler Kerin Ramirez is on trial, accused of invading the officer's home in unincorporated Carol Stream in September 2011.

Peters said he shot the defendant in the abdomen after a neighbor came to help and the two were still unable to subdue him.

"He was left with no other options," DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney Joe Lindt said in opening statements.

The defense contends Ramirez was extremely drunk when he wandered into the house, just six doors down from a party he attended earlier that night.

Ramirez, then 19, had no criminal intent and fought back only after Peters shoved him, defense attorney Gal Pissetzky told jurors.

"He thought he was going back to that party," Pissetzky said.

Peters said he encountered Ramirez about 7 a.m. after being awakened by a "loud crash." He went to investigate and found a "strange man" standing near his 4-year-old son at a stairway landing.

"I said, 'Get out of my house,'" the 16-year police veteran testified. "He looked at me and said, kind of under his breath, '(expletive) you, get out of my house.'"

Peters said Ramirez pulled off his own shirt and flexed his muscles, then started to approach.

The officer said he put out his hand to push Ramirez toward the front door. That's when the Ramirez allegedly body slammed the officer, climbed on top of him and threw the first punches of what would be a lengthy fight with the two rolling around on the floor, Peters said.

Peters yelled for his wife to call 911 but, before police arrived, a 66-year-old retired sheriff's deputy who lived next door showed up and tried to intervene.

At that point, Ramirez began fighting the neighbor while Peters ran to his vehicle for his duty weapon, according to testimony.

Ramirez and the neighbor were still wrestling when Peters returned and announced he was a police officer and had a gun, Peters said.

Then Ramirez "grabbed me with his legs and threw me to the ground," Peters testified.

Peters said he fired twice because the first round malfunctioned. When the second shot hit Ramirez, "he finally stopped fighting," Peters said, admitting he later dragged Ramirez outside by the feet.

Pissetzky suggested Peters should have known how better to handle the situation because of his training as a SWAT officer and hostage negotiator.

"Those 16 years of training ... went out the window when he attacked Kerin Ramirez first and then shot him," Pissetzky said.

Ramirez, 21, of Addison, has been in custody on $300,000 bail since his arrest in October 2011.

Judge George Bakalis is presiding over the trial, which resumes Thursday.

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