Sgt. Capter Describes How He Apprehended Carter & Artis

Complete Transcript
of Pre-Trial Hearing
April 7, 1967

MAP OF OFFICER'S MOVEMENTS

THEODORE CAPTER, being first duly sworn, testifies as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Sergeant Capter, you are a member of the Paterson Police Department, right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How long have you been a member of the Police Department?

A: Nineteen years.

Q: How long have you held the rank of sergeant?

A: Ten years.

Q: Were you on duty on the morning of June the 17th, 1966?

A: I was.

Q: And at some time on that morning, did you receive a radio call to go to the area of the Lafayette Grill at Lafayette and East 18th Street?

MR. BROWN: I object to the question. Its immaterial and hearsay. I realize there are some exceptions.

THE COURT: Certainly, where the police officer received the radio call.

MR. BROWN: Your Honor, that is the next question I anticipate.

THE COURT: Well, lets wait until the next question is asked. Officer, you did receive a radio call to go to Lafayette and East 18th Street?

THE WITNESS: Yes, your Honor.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Officer, where were you when you received the call?

A: I was going in an easterly direction on 17th Avenue. I was in the intersection of East 22nd Street.

Q: At what time was that?

A: 2:34 in the morning.

Q: And what did you do after receiving the call?

A: Well, we proceeded to go east to East 24th Street where we made a left turn.

Q: You say "we"; who else?

A: I am referring to my chauffeur, Officer Dachellis.

Q: You were in a squad car?

A: Yes.

Q: Then what did you do?

A: Well, we made a left-hand turn on East 24th Street. We were proceeding in a northerly direction when we reached the intersection of East 24th and 12th Avenue. We seen a car, a white car, proceeding in an easterly direction on 12th Avenue.

Q: How fast was that car going?

A: It was going at a good rate of speed.

Q: What did you do after you observed that car?

A: Well, we proceeded to go north on 24th Street to 10th Avenue, and then we made a right-hand turn on 10th Avenue to travel in an easterly direction to reach McClean Boulevard or Route 20.

Q: Where were you going?

A: We were going down to try to reach the intersection of East 33rd Street and McClean Boulevard.

Q: What was the purpose in doing that?

A: We wanted to see if we could apprehend this white car. While we were in the process of going, I radioed to one of the other squad cars in the district to proceed to Broadway and East 33rd Street so that we could bottle them in there.

Q: Then what happened?

A: Well, we proceeded on Route 20. We came under the overpass and went up on Route 4. We went in an easterly direction on Route 4 as far as the Grand Union. We rode quite a distance and we didnt see anything on the road. So, we made a U-turn and came back into Paterson. We were coming down the hill, just passing the Barnert Hospital, going in a westerly direction when we seen a white car cross Broadway.

Q: Was that car similar to the car you had seen before?

MR. BROWN: Objection. Its a leading question.

THE COURT: I will permit it. As far as we know, it was a white car.

MR. BROWN: I object to it. Its not responsive.

THE COURT: Objection overruled. Officer, you saw a white car?

THE WITNESS: Yes, you Honor, going across Broadway. We turned left into East 28th Street. We took after the white car and stopped him on 14th Avenue and East 28th Street.

 

BY MR. HULL:

Q: What kind of a car was this that you stopped?

A: It was a white 66 dodge.

Q: And what did you do when you stopped that car?

A: Well, I asked the driver for his license and registration.

Q: Who was the driver of that vehicle?

A: Artis.

Q: What happened after you stopped the car and asked him that?

A: Mr. Artis produced his drivers license. So, I asked him for the registration of the car. Then, Mr. Rubin Carter, who was lying in the back seat, got up and said that the registration was attached to the steering column of the car. With that, he reached up and took the registration off the steering column and gave it to me.

Q: What happened then?

A: Then we checked the car out to see if the registration corresponded with the plates and it did, and then I gave it back to Artis and we let them go.

Q: What kind of plates were on that car?

A: New York plates. The car belonged to Avis Rental.

Q: I show you this photograph, S-3 in evidence, and ask you if you ever saw the contents of that photograph before?

A: Yes, sir, thats the car I stopped on 14th Avenue and East 28th Street.

Q: What was the color of the license plates?

A: Well, it had a black, dark background with yellow or gold numerals.

MR. BROWN: I object and ask that it be stricken.

THE COURT: Well, that is a matter of expression. Officer, tell us what the color of the letters were, if you know.

THE WITNESS: Well, I think they were yellow.

MR. BROWN: I object.

THE COURT: Well, we will accept the testimony in the matter it was given.

MR. BROWN: I still object.

THE COURT: Proceed with the witness.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Was there anyone else in the vehicle at that time when you stopped them at 14th Avenue and East 28th Street?

A: There were three men in the car.

Q: You said that Artis was behind the wheel?

A: He was the driver.

Q: And where was Mr. Carter?

A: He was lying on the back seat. He got up and told me who he was, and there was another man in the passengers side.

Q: Did you ascertain who he was?

A: No, sir.

Q: What time was this?

A: 2:40 A.M.

Q: What happened after you checked the license and registration?

A: Well, I gave them back. I gave Artis the license and registration, and Rubin Carter asked me why there were stopped and I told them it was a routine check.

Q: Then what did you do?

A: Well, then we let them go and we proceeded in a westerly direction on 14th Avenue until about 22nd Street, made a right turn as we went over to 9th Avenue and we made a left turn on 9th Avenue and came over towards the scene of the crime?

Q: What do you mean by the scene of the crime?

A: Well, we went over the East 18th and Lafayette Street.

Q: How long did you stay there?

A: Only a matter of a few minutes. It wasnt too long when somebody gave us a description of the car and then we started to proceed in a southerly direction on East 18th Street and we ran into the same car that we had stopped.

THE COURT: When you say somebody gave you a description, who, another police officer or a witness?

THE WITNESS: Well, I think it was another police officer. I am not sure.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Did you speak to any individuals at the scene?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Outside of the police?

A: Yes.

Q: They all discussed the car with you?

A: Yes. One man there told me when they stepped on the brake the back of the car looked like the lights lit up like a butterfly.

Q: And what did you do? Strike that. At the time you came back and went to the scene after stopping the car at 14th Avenue and East 28th Street, did you receive any information at the scene as to the type of license plate on the car?

A: No, we didnt.

Q: When did you receive any information about the license plates?

MR. BROWN: Objection. Its leading.

THE COURT: It is a question of time. How do you ask him that, if you dont ask when?

MR. BROWN: Because there is no proof he ever did.

THE COURT: All right. He will be able to tell us if he did receive any information. Officer, when did you receive it first?

THE WITNESS: Well, the first information we got was at 2:34 to look for a white car.

THE COURT: Was this when you first got the information?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Over the radio?

A: Yes.

Q: That was from Headquarters?

A: Yes.

Q: What else was said to you at that time from Headquarters?

A: Then we were told that there was a shooting.

THE COURT: Were you told where?

THE WITNESS: Well, at the Lafayette Club.

THE COURT: Were you told anything else at that time?

THE WITNESS: Yes, to be on the look out for a white car with two colored occupants.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Then you stopped this particular car at about 2:40 A.M -- at 14th Avenue and East 28th Street?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Then you checked for the license and registration?

MR. BROWN: I object to this as leading.

THE COURT: Ask him what he did. Please dont lead him.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: What did you find when you went to the scene at the Lafayette Grill?

MR. BROWN: I object to this, your Honor. What did he find out is immaterial and irrelevant. There is an issue of reliability content here.

THE COURT: We must understand, of course, this is not a trial and hearsay is permissible.

MR. BROWN: Within certain bounds.

THE COURT: Well, I dont know what the bounds are.

MR. BROWN: Well, hearsay might be within these bounds in identifying the person from whom the hearsay was gotten.

THE COURT: Officer, did you speak to anyone when you got to the scene at 18th and Lafayette?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

THE COURT: Who did you speak to there?

THE WITNESS: Well, I later found out.

THE COURT: Well, did you speak to a person there?

THE WITNESS: I spoke to a man that was there and he told me that they chased him down the street with a shotgun.

THE COURT: Who chased whom?

THE WITNESS: These two colored fellows running from wherever they were coming from down the street, and he saw them and they chased him and he ran into an alley or something.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Did you learn anything about the car?

A: Well, he described the back of the car and he was the one who told me that when they stepped on the brakes the taillights lit up like a butterfly.

Q: Then what did you do?

A: Then we left there. We started to go down East 18th Street. Just as we entered the intersection of East 18th and Broadway, we were right behind the car I stopped before; the New York car, the 66 white Dodge. That fitted the description, so I pulled them over to the curb. In the meantime, I called in and told them I was stopping this car at that location. Then I told the driver to pull in front of 431 Broadway to let the traffic proceed. In the meantime, the other car came and we turned him around and told him to follow us.

THE COURT: Did you stop the car?

THE WITNESS: Well, we pulled alongside of it and told him to pull over to the side of the road in order to let traffic proceed. We pulled them over to Broadway.

THE COURT: Then what?

THE WITNESS: Then the other car came over.

THE COURT: The other police car?

THE WITNESS: Yes. I told Mr. Artis to turn the car around and follow the police car that would be in front of him.

THE COURT: Did you tell them where to follow him? Did you tell them where he was going?

THE WITNESS: I just told him to follow him. I got behind him and we took him back to East 18th Street and Lafayette Street.

MR. BROWN: If your Honor please, at this time I have a motion to make. Perhaps it should be made in chambers with respect to secrecy. We have come to the course of the testimony where I think under the rules within this direction that this hearing may be held in secrecy. I am particularly interested with the issues of preface and pretrial. I believe in the Johnson case that the Court held in certain circumstances that the hearing should be held in the courtroom only strictly to those who have official business there. We may have this now. I dont know, but it appears to me that we have reached that point in the case. I know of no way to suppress publication of this hearing in open court. I would now like to make a motion in regard to that. I respectfully feel that it should be made in chambers, but if your Honor feels otherwise, we can have it in open court. However, I want you to know that this question relates to the press.

THE COURT: In any event, up to this point no application has been made, and I have not seen any problem.

MR. BROWN: Your Honor, it has not been made, but I anticipate the problem at this time and it might later be too late for the problem to be rectified. I want it to be known that at no time prior has any motion been made by me.

THE COURT: Mr. Hull, how do you feel about this application?

MR. HULL: I am aware of no law regarding this situation. I will rely on the decision of the Court.

THE COURT: Mr. Hull, I have yet to find a situation where there wasnt a law to cover every problem that arises in a case. Lets consider this as lawyers. Lets not anticipate something that may have been written by someone else. What is your reaction to the application as a lawyer for the State?

MR. HULL: I have no objection to the application offered by Defense Counsel.

MR. BROWN: I cite the Johnson case.

THE COURT: I am fully familiar with the background. The matter is within the discretion of the Court, in order to assure the problem protection of the defendants against pretrial publicity. .Moreover, there should be no restrictions on a public trial. However, in certain circumstances like this, since the trial is not far off from the present date, something may develop which may injure the defendents by virtue of publication or virtue of reading by potential jurors. It may, in fact, disqualify some jurors. Under the circumstances, and in view of Counsels fear of the possibility of publication, I am inclined to permit the proceedings to continue without the presence of persons who are not directly connected with this proceeding. Now, in view of the number of people involved, and for practical purposes, we will continue within the courtroom. May I respectfully ask the officers to enforce this, and that those who are not involved, and I make particular notice to our competent newspaper reporter who is sitting here, to leave the courtroom now. Of course it must be understood that no one in this courtroom will report the proceedings which will take place from this point on to the press or any other source.

MR. HULL: Your Honor, the remaining three people in the back are State witnesses and they are members of the Prosecutors office.

MR. BROWN: I have no objection, provided it is understood by all that no one is to reveal any details.

THE COURT: So the record is clear, in one corner is sitting the Clerk of the Court who, of course, should be at her desk in front. On this side is the Courts legal secretary. All right, we will proceed in this fashion.

MR. HULL: Your Honor, there was a detective from the Prosecutors office who is not here now but he may come back.

MR. BROWN: No objection.

BY MR. HULL:

Q: Now, Sergeant, what time was this that you found the vehicle at Broadway and East 18th Street?

A: Three oclock in the morning.

Q: How many were in the car at that time?

A: Two.

Q: And who were they?

A: Artis was driving the car and there was a man on the passengers side in the front seat.

Q: Which vehicle were they in?

A: The white 66 Dodge .

Q: Was that the same vehicle that was stopped at 14th and East 28th Street?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what did you do with them after you found them?

A: Well, like I said, I pulled them over to the side on Broadway and then I got another squad car to come over. I put the other squad car on East 18th Street facing in a northerly direction. I had Mr. Artis to turn his car around in order to follow the squad car over to East 18th and Lafayette Street. I told the car in front to make a left turn off of 18th Street into Lafayette and they were following him. So, I cut the intersection off with my squad car.

Q: And you proceeded?

THE COURT: Well, I gather the car stopped there?

THE WITNESS: Yes, your Honor, thats right.

MR. HULL: I have no further questions.

THE COURT: Mr. Brown.

MR. BROWN: May we have the statements of the Grand Jury testimony made by the officer?

MR. HULL: I have the Grand Jury testimony, your Honor.

THE COURT: Were there any reports by that officer?

MR. BROWN: I think they are known by blue sheets, your Honor.

MR. HULL: Your Honor, I have the Grand Jury testimony here of October 26, 1966, Pages 3 to 18, which contain the testimony of Theodore Capter, and I believe Mr. Weberman was the stenographer.

THE COURT: All right. What do you have by way of a statement or a report?

MR. BROWN: Officer, did you make a report?

THE WITNESS: No, sir.

THE COURT: Well, all right, that solves the problem.

MR. HULL: I do have in my possession something that this officer told someone else. It is not his report; it is someone elses report.

MR. BROWN: Thats a statement.

THE COURT: You mean someone elses version as to what he told that other person? I dont know if that contains anything.

MR. BROWN: It might be verbatim, your Honor.

THE COURT: Well, it is a hearsay version and not this witness statement or report.

MR. BROWN: Your Honor, if Mr. Hull would give it to the officer and let him state if that is factual as he reported it, then may I have it?

THE COURT: That suggestion sounds fair.

(Mr. Hull hands the record to the witness and the witness reads the record.)

MR. HULL: Your Honor, I think I made some notations on the report.

THE COURT: All right. Maybe we will put you on the stand, Mr. Hull.

MR. BROWN: And I will ask you about it.

MR. HULL: I believe the notations are just some notes that I made.

THE COURT: Well, all right, proceed.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. BROWN:

Q: Now, Officer, on the occasion when you stopped the car in which Artis, Carter and Bucks were riding at about 2:40 A.M. or thereabouts, you allowed them to proceed. Is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Could you describe Bucks for me?

A: No, sir.

Q: You cannot?

A: No.

Q: Can you describe Artis from what you saw at that time?

A: Well, he had on a short jacket or a sports shirt. I didnt pay too much particular attention to it.

Q: So, you wouldnt be able to describe it?

A: No, sir.

Q: The second time you stopped the car at Broadway and East 18th, what was the posture of the car? Did you have to stop them? Were they being run down?

A: They were stopped waiting for the traffic light.

Q: Nothing unusual?

A: No. The only thing, it fit the description that I received at the scene of the crime.

Q: The description you had was that it was a car and when the brakes were applied it caused the rear lights to light up in a butterfly fashion?

A: Yes.

Q: That was the description you had?

A: Yes.

Q: You had no resistance from these people at any time, did you?

A: No, sir.

Q: You never had to put them under arrest?

A: No.

Q: In fact, when you went up to the m at Broadway and 18th, you just told them to follow you. Is that right?

A: I asked them to turn the car around and follow the squad car.

Q: You said, "Turn your car around and follow the squad car"?

A: Yes.

Q: When you got back to the Lafayette Tavern, did you observe the car being searched?

A: No, sir.

Q: It was not searched at that time?

A: No, sir.

Q: As far as you know?

THE COURT: Well, not while you were there, Officer?

THE WITNESS: No, not while I was there.

BY MR. BROWN:

Q: Officer, did you observe the car being searched at three oclock?

A: No.

Q: Officer, could you tell us how far they were away from the place when you first stopped them?

A: East 28th Street.

 

Q: Officer, tell us how far that was from Lafayette and 18th Street.

A: Thats where the Lafayette Bar & Grill is, sir.

Q: Could you tell us in blocks, please?

A: About 14 blocks.

Q: About 14 blocks?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, they were on 14th as opposed to 18th when you first stopped them. Is that right? I am not talking about the first time you stopped them.

A: 14th Avenue and East 28th Street.

Q: That would be four blocks east and about at least ten blocks south, am I right?

A: It would be about ten blocks east and four blocks south.

Q: Ten blocks east and four blocks south. That would be fourteen blocks, but ten blocks would be straight and one block would be at right angles. Now, were they proceeding in a direction which would have brought them towards the Lafayette Grill when you first stopped them?

A: No, they were proceeding in a southerly direction.

Q: They would have to go north to get to the grill, is that right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Are there any traffic lights, to your knowledge, on the route from Lafayette and 18th?

A: Where the grill is or at 14th and 28th where they were stopped?

Q: I am talking about the route you went. Are there any traffic lights intervening?

A: Yes.

Q: The fact is there would be about a half dozen traffic lights, wouldnt there be? Is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: The fact is if you were traveling that way at night at a regular rate of speed, you would be stopped by one or two lights. I know it would be impossible to get them all.

A: How can you determine that?

Q: Have you ever been assigned to traffic?

A: No.

Q: How long did it take you, for example, to travel the route from the place where you began until you stopped this car which was at 28th Street?

A: East 28th Street and 14th Avenue.

Q: East 28th and 14th Avenue. How far is that from the Lafayette Grill? I am talking about the second time you stopped them.

A: At East 18th and Broadway.

Q: Now, would you tell us, please, how far that is in terms of blocks?

A: Well, I would say it is about a half dozen blocks.

Q: Half dozen blocks. So, the second time you stopped them, they were closer to the tavern and heading north?

A: No, they were heading south.

Q: Still facing south?

A: Yes.

Q: So that when you first found them, they were facing south?

A: Yes.

Q: And when you found them the second time, they were facing south?

A: Yes.

Q: They were roughly a half dozen blocks away from the Lafayette Grill at a traffic light still facing south?

A: Thats right.

Q: Now, that distance from six blocks would take roughly how long to return to the Lafayette Grill to where you stopped them?

A: Well, that wouldnt take that long. A few minutes, thats all.

Q: Just a few minutes?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, with respect to the third man in the car, could you describe him for us?

A: No, sir.

Q: You never got his name, did you?

A: No, there was no need for me to get his name.

Q: There was no need?

A: No, sir.

Q: The second time there was no need to take Artis name? You didnt know who he was the second time, did you?

A: He was the driver of the car. I recognized him from stopping him the first time. That is why I didnt ask him for his license.

Q: You knew who Carter was, didnt you?

A: Yes.

Q: They were not unknown persons? You knew who they were, didnt you?

A: Yes.

Q: There was nothing wrong with his car as to lights or anything else that would cause you to stop them in terms of bad lights or anything of that sort?

A: No, sir.

Q: Now, tell us who spoke to you about the butterfly lights? What is his name?

A: I believe his name is Bello.

Q: A man named Bello. You gave us all that he told you, regardless of what he might have told sombody else?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, you say that Bello told you somebody had chased him down the street?

A: Yes, chased after him.

Q: Now, you also told us that prior to stopping the car which Artis was the driver of at 2:40, you saw a white car en route on some street?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Thats wasnt the same car that you finally stopped, was it?

A: Well, it is hard to say, because there was another car right behind them. All we could distinguish was that it was an out-of-state plate.

Q: So, you cant say that it was the same car that you stopped at 2:40?

A: Yes.

Q: Where was that white car you saw? Where did you see it?

A: On 12th Avenue and East 24th Street.

Q: Was it also heading south or was it going north?

A: It was going in an easterly direction.

Q: This first car you saw was going in an easterly direction on what street?

A: 12th Avenue.

Q: Near what intersection?

A: 24th Street.

Q: When you stopped Artis and Carter, the third man was going south at another intersection?

A: Yes.

Q: So, actually, the cars were going in an opposite direction as far as you can relate here. There was one going south and one going east?

A: Yes, thats right.

Q: This was a similar car to the one you had described to you over the radio?

A: Yes.

Q: And this information you got over the radio came to you about 2:34?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How soon after 2:34 did you see the white car which was going east on 12th Avenue?

A: Id say about 2:35; within a minute.

Q: Then you proceeded for a while and it was about five minutes later that you stopped Carter and Artis at the other intersection?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, when you saw the car going east on 12th, you attempted to go around to cut them off you said?

A: Thats right.

Q: From the direction you described as your cut-off route, you actually went all the way around and you later found Artis and Carter?

A: No, I was going in an opposite direction from where he was stopped later on.

Q: North?

A: Thats right.

Q: So you went north in order to cut off this car which was going east on 12th?

A: Yes.

Q: After you went north, you then went east. You had to go around it?

A: Yes.

Q: What street did you go east on?

A: 10th Avenue.

Q: So, you would be paralleling 12th

A: Yes.

Q: Which street did you turn south on? You were going east now?

A: The only place we turned south was on Route 20.

Q: Did you ever see that car again, the white car you described going east on 12th?

A: I didnt see that white car until we saw the car go across Broadway.

Q: What car was that that you saw going on Broadway?

A: The one you had in the picture.

Q: You couldnt identify that car going east on 12th as the same car you saw go across Broadway, could you?

A: I couldnt.

Q: Then you couldnt say that it was the same white car that you stopped before? There were two cars, right?

THE COURT: Well, there is no evidence as to that.

MR. BROWN: I withdraw the question.

BY MR. BROWN:

Q: From the facts as you have related them to us, it is within the realm of probability that there could have been two similar cars. In other words, a white one like this going east on 12th and the one you ultimately stopped on East 14th Street?

A: Its possible.

Q: Its also probable that the route you took to circumvent the car going east on 12th put you in such a position that you would not have seen them if they had gone back to 14th Street, would you?

A: No, sir.

Q: You wouldnt have?

A: No, sir.

Q: You dont know whether the car going east on 12th Street was a separate car from the one in which you saw Carter and Artis?

A: No, sir.

Q: But you cant say one way or the other, is that correct?

A: No, sir.

MR. BROWN: No further questions.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. STEIN:

Q: The Lafayette Grill is on the corner of Lafayette and East 18th Street, is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: The tavern fronts on East 18th Street, right?

A: Yes.

Q: You could proceed in both directions at East 18th Street at that point, right?

A: Yes.

Q: Well, what direction would that be? North and south or east and west?

A: North and south.

Q: Now, I believe Lafayette Street comes into a "T" intersection at East 18th Street?

A: Yes.

Q: Is that a one-way street?

A: No, sir.

Q: Its a two-way street at that point?

A: Yes, sir.

MR. STEIN: I have no further questions.

THE COURT: Thats all, Officer. Its 4:30 and I suppose we could call it a day.

(Whereupon, court is adjourned.)

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