While Veasna Johnathan Bun hid in the woods from law enforcement officers July 20, he called his mother to tell her he was scared because he'd "just shot a cop," testified a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent during a preliminary hearing, Tuesday, in Clayton County Magistrate Court.
The revelation was one of many made public for the first time since Bun's arrest in the shooting death of Clayton Sheriff's Deputy Rick Daly. Bun, 17, of Riverdale, is charged with malice and felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
He also faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault in a January theft of $200 from a Forest Park store.
After the 90-minute hearing, Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker bound over all of Bun's charges to Superior Court for further prosecution. He is being held in the Henry County Jail pending a bond hearing Friday.
Walker announced that Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson disqualified herself from prosecuting the case because of her prior involvement in Bun's extensive juvenile criminal record. Before being elected district attorney, Lawson was a Clayton County Juvenile Court judge.
Clayton Executive Assistant District Attorney Jason Green elicited testimony from GBI Special Agent Jonathan Spurlock on the events leading up to Daly's shooting.
Clayton County Detective Edgardo Rivera also testified. He said that Bun had ample time and opportunity to surrender in the armed robbery case and keep silent, or come in and give a statement to police. Either way, Bun would be going to jail, Rivera told him during a July 6 phone call.
"He first agreed to give his side, said he had nothing to hide," said Rivera. "But it appeared he kept working himself up to the fact that he would not be going home that night. He was clearly reluctant. Then, he hung up."
Rivera said he took warrants for Bun's arrest that day and created a wanted poster. About two weeks later, the fugitive squad caught up with Bun as he rode with a friend in a black Honda through a Riverdale neighborhood.
Spurlock testified about the traffic stop that ended in Daly's death. As required law, a uniformed officer in a marked patrol car was needed to initiate the stop to arrest Bun on the active warrants. Daly was in the area and answered the call for assistance. Two officers from the fugitive squad and Deputy Minh Doan were also at the stop as Daly approached the passenger side where Bun was known to be riding.
In about a second, "very quickly," said Spurlock, and before the Honda even came to a complete stop, Bun stepped from the car and shot Daly at close range.
"There was gunpowder, stippling, on his wounds," said Spurlock, indicating the shooter was less than 3 feet away. "Deputy Daly had no opportunity or ability to return fire. He fell and collapsed to the ground near the passenger side door."
Bun later told police he fired two or three times. Daly was hit twice. Bun ran to the front of the Honda and aimed at Doan, according to Spurlock. Spurlock said Bun told him that his gun, a stolen .40-caliber Glock, jammed. The jam probably saved Doan's life, said Assistant District Attorney Green.
"But for that jammed round, God knows what would've happened to Deputy Doan," said Green. "Bun had a clear intent to re-engage in gunfire."
Spurlock said he also learned from the Honda's driver, Tuan Nguyen, what happened inside the car before the shooting.
"He said Bun pulled the weapon from his waistband and racked the gun," said Spurlock. "The driver asked him, 'What the hell are you doing? Don't do it,' and even reached to grab Bun's hand, but since the car was still moving and is a manual, he had to put his hand back on the gear shift to keep it from stalling out."
After the shooting, Bun ran into the woods and stripped to his underwear, said Spurlock. Officers looked for Bun for more than five hours, finding him less than a mile away, still hiding in the woods.
During most of the hearing, Bun sat at the defense table with his head bowed. However, he sat up straight as Spurlock testified about his capture. He pursed his lips and shook his head several times, especially when the agent talked about a K-9 unit used in the capture.
Spurlock denied Matthews' assertion that Bun was cuffed at the time.
"It is my understanding that the dog more or less chewed my client's head," said Matthews, and accused police of using the K-9 to punish Bun. "It was retaliation on the part of police for my client supposedly killing one of their own. It is not uncommon, it is a recurrent situation when a suspect is apprehended. They seem to have a lot of 'accidental injuries.'"
Matthews also seemed to blame Daly for not avoiding being shot.
"It is not clear if Daly was warned he was affecting a felony stop," said Matthews. "If he'd known, he would have been more cautious about approaching the vehicle. He didn't know the person he was approaching was armed. A reasonably prudent officer would have had his gun drawn."
Walker disagreed, saying that higher courts have upheld that a victim's awareness of danger is not an essential element.
The next step in the process is to present the case to a grand jury. It is not known when that will happen. Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield has been assigned to hear the case, if it is indicted.
Daly's mother, Joyce Ormond Daly, and other family members and friends attended the hearing. Sheriff Kem Kimbrough stepped into the courtroom midway through testimony. He said the pursuit of justice is important to gaining closure.
"It's just good to be part of the healing process," he said. "We're seeking justice for Rick's killer, and we will do what we can to facilitate that. It's part of our oath, what we are sworn to do."