Cape officer testifies against the man accused of shooting him

Gabrielle Sarann

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Cape officer testifies against the man accused of shooting him

CREATED Aug. 6, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The trial is underway in the Yousel Rivera case. He's the man accused of opening fire on a Cape Coral police officer, who survived the attack. This afternoon, the state presented its first witness before a jury of three women and five men. 

"I was feeling shots hitting me," recounted Cape Coral Officer David Wagoner, 45, the state's star witness. State Attorney Steve Russel and Assistant State Attorney Marie Scalise are the lead prosecutors.

Wagoner explained what he saw the night he came face-to-face with the barrel of a gun.

"I saw the firearm coming out from the left hand, concealed right out, coming out with a flash, coming out at the muzzle, right at me," he remembered.

Wagoner was the first to testify against the man accused of shooting him on April 11, 2011: 22-year-old Yousel Rivera. He sat stone-faced in court as Wagoner pointed him out. David Brener, a criminal attorney, is representing Rivera.

The state is charging Rivera with attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. The night of the incident, Wagoner pulled over Rivera and his girlfriend, who was driving the black Cadillac, for an expired tag. Wagoner says when he asked Rivera for ID, he shot him three times with a silver revolver. Wagoner's bullet proof vest was his only line of defense.

"One caught the corner there," pointed Rivera, as he showed the court where he took the bullets. "Another shot at the hip, right here, the vest also, and another shot between the vest and my duty belt striking me just below the belly button and I passed out."

He says that left him with lasting health complications, including nerve damage and intestinal problems. He needs special equipment to do his job.

"I wear an extra harness that goes over my shoulders and helps me carry the weight of the duty belt so it doesn't ride on my injury site," he explained.

To recover from his injuries, Wagoner also said he had to be away from his job for seven-and-a-half-months after the shooting.

The trial is expected to last through the week.