Man imprisoned for shooting at officers

By DeeAnna Haney | May 26, 2014
Robert Moore

A man who fired a pistol at law enforcement and was shot by officers in response last year was sentenced to prison following a trial last week.

The incident occurred when officers responded to a domestic disturbance call the evening of Saturday, April 27, 2013.

After receiving the call, the 9-1-1 dispatcher could only overhear an active argument and yelling between a man and a woman, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones explained while laying out the background of the case. When the dispatcher attempted to transfer the call to the Haywood County Sheriff's Office dispatch, the line went dead.

Deputies and Canton police officers were sent to the home as a dispatcher at the sheriff's office called the number back and all that was heard was a woman screaming, "Help me, help me. My husband is going to kill me, help me," before the connection was lost again.

When dispatch called back, Robert Moore calmly answered the phone, saying his wife had just stepped outside.

"She got excited. We don't really have a problem," he said, before handing the phone over to his wife, Jean Moore.

However, Jean told dispatch a different story, saying her husband was "in a drunken rage," had grabbed her wrist and threatened to kill her.

While still on the phone with dispatch, Jean Moore locked herself in her car outside until law enforcement could arrive.

When four deputies and two Canton police officers arrived at the doublewide trailer, they found Jean Moore in the car and carefully approached the home, where they could see Robert Moore sitting in a recliner through the glass door.

Sgt. Matt Shell repeatedly asked to see Moore's hands as he and three other officers stood with guns drawn, but he failed to move.

Then, Moore abruptly stood from the chair, spun around and pointed what officers believed was a gun in their direction. During witness testimony, each officer said he believed it was a gun and that Moore had fired one shot. That's when Shell fired in return. A subsequent investigation concluded Moore did fire a single shot at the officers.

After the shot, officers scuffled to find cover outside as they fired a total of 33 rounds in Moore's direction. When Canton officer Steven Moore pulled his Taser at one point, he dropped it to the ground and activated a video camera on the device, which showed bullets being shot by an officer through the window at Robert Moore.

The suspect was shot three times — twice in the lower left abdomen and he was grazed across his upper chest. During his transfer to the hospital for surgery, Moore was belligerent and continually cursed at the officers, Jones said.

The following day, Jean Moore filed a protective order against her husband and the State Bureau of Investigation began an independent investigation, which is common practice with an officer-involved shooting, Jones said.

Following the investigation, the officer's shooting was considered self defense and Moore was charged with three counts assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm, resisting a public officer, assault on a female, communicating threats and interfering emergency communications.

During a three-day trial last week, Moore's wife gave a testimony that was consistent with the evidence. However, she said she and her husband are still together and are trying to work out their problems. She also said she feels partially responsible for the argument that led to the incident that night.

"During cross examination the state asked if she thought it was her fault that he assaulted her, and she said she takes some of the blame," Jones said.

She also said that her husband does not remember what transpired that night.

It took the jury about two-and-a-half hours to deliberate and return a guilty verdict on all charges.

Judge Marvin P. Pope from Buncombe County sentenced Moore to 20 to 36 months in prison. When released, he will be placed on 24 months probation and must undergo treatment for alcohol abuse and anger management.

Assistant District Attorney Rachael Groffsky, who helped prosecute the case, said domestic violence is one of the most common and most serious crimes.

"Jean Moore fits the classic example of a victim of domestic violence in that she blames herself to some degree, she continues to stay with the offender with the home of changing him and fixing what may be wrong with him that got him in this position in the first place," Groffsky said.

She referred to the recent case of Haywood resident Michael Morrow, who is currently serving life in prison for fatally shooting his wife, Amanda, in 2010.

"You see similar parallels of alcohol abuse, firearms and the desire to want to control his wife through threats and violent acts. This case is a tragedy that Mr. Moore brought upon himself and which could have been avoided," Groffsky said, adding she was grateful Jean Moore cooperated with the prosecution in the case.

Jones pointed out that the true heroes in this case are the police officers who never know what situation they may be walking into during domestic violence calls like this one.

"Their job is to protect and serve the community and it's hard to fully appreciate the risks involved until you see how quickly things can escalate in a case such as this one," he said. "We applaud the dedication and commitment that these officers have shown in this particular case and also in the way in which they conduct themselves every day in our community."



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