West Hanover man held for court in trooper shooting

A Dauphin County man is headed to trial for shooting and injuring a state police trooper last month.

David Edward Ricker, 50, of West Hanover Township, was held for court after a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Ricker is charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault on a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault for an incident at his home in the 7600 block of Greenhill Road.

Trooper Michael Trotta was investigating reports of a person driving over mailboxes June 1 when he confronted an allegedly drunk and disorderly Ricker in his garage.

Prosecutors said Ricker yelled profanities and pointed a gun at Trotta before the two exchanged gunfire. The trooper sustained four wounds to his arm and thigh and Ricker was shot twice in the stomach.

Ricker’s attorney, William Costopoulos, said his client was retreating with his gun by his side, not pointing it at Trotta, when the trooper fired the first shot.

“If it was down by his side and he was retreating in his home, he never came out of his home with that firearm, he shouldn’t have been shot,” Costopoulos said after the hearing.

“It didn’t have to happen this way,” First Deputy District Attorney Fran Chardo said. “The defendant – you heard the testimony about his behavior, his drunkenness – he took this assault rifle and he pointed it at a trooper and that is why he got shot.”

Trotta did not attend the hearing, but recorded a statement that was played as testimony.

“I’ve never been to a preliminary hearing – and I have been doing this for 43 years – where no witnesses were called, and all we listened to was a tape recording that gave me no opportunity to cross-examine,” Costopoulos said.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said you can admit hearsay at a preliminary hearing and that’s what we did,” Chardo said. “I’m not going to make the trooper relive this shooting unnecessarily. He’ll testify at trial.”

Costopoulos said a key witness was at the hearing, but was not called to testify.

“There was only one other eye witness there. He was a state trooper that indicated that Ricker was retreating when he was shot, and they don’t call him,” he said. “Even though he was here, they excused him.”

“We wouldn’t have brought the charges if we didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” Chardo said. “Ultimately, a jury is going to decide this.”

Ricker was released on bail last month. His formal arraignment in Dauphin County court is scheduled August 28.

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