News

Witness: Pistorius argued with officer who touched his gun

Witness: Pistorius argued with officer who touched his gun

ON TRIAL: Pistorius, a double amputee, is accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. He maintains he shot her through a locked toilet door believing an intruder was lurking in his luxury Pretoria home. Photo: Associated Press

By Lynette Ndabambi

PRETORIA (Reuters) – South African track star Oscar Pistorius had a row with a policeman who picked up his gun after pulling over his friend for speeding, saying “You can’t just touch another man’s gun,” the friend told his murder trial on Tuesday.

Pistorius, a double amputee, is accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. He maintains he shot her through a locked toilet door believing an intruder was lurking in his luxury Pretoria home.

His friend, Darren Fresco, told the court in Pretoria that he had been driving south of Johannesburg in September 2012 when Pistorius, nicknamed “Bladerunner” for his carbon fiber prosthetics, and his then girlfriend Samantha Taylor were flagged down.

“Another officer went over to the passenger seat where Oscar Pistorius was sitting and he picked up a gun. There was a verbal altercation between the accused and the officer,” Fresco said.

“Pistorius said to the officer, ‘You can’t just touch another man’s gun,'” Fresco said. “Then they argued.”

After being allowed to leave, Pistorius “out of the blue” fired the gun through the open sunroof of the car, to the astonishment of Fresco, who was driving at the time.

“Apologies for my language, but I asked him if he was fucking mad,” Fresco told the court. “He just laughed.”

In another shooting incident, the 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic star asked Fresco to take the rap on his behalf after discharging a firearm inside a packed Johannesburg restaurant.

“Being a friend I said I would, with pleasure,” the long-haired Fresco said.

Pistorius is facing separate gun charges for the two incidents, part of the prosecution’s attempts to paint Pistorius as a cocky, gun-obsessed hot-head who does not like to take responsibility for his actions.

Of the four rounds he fired through the toilet door, three hit his girlfriend, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, on the hip, shoulder and head.

Earlier, state pathologist Gert Saayman had told the court that food found in Steenkamp’s stomach suggested she had eaten food at about 1 a.m. – two hours before she died and in contradiction to Pistorius’ testimony that the couple went to bed at 10 p.m.

Saayman said Steenkamp would have most certainly screamed after being shot in the arm and hip before a final shot in the head killed her.

Pistorius wept and vomited several times into a bucket as Saayman detailed the extent of Steenkamp’s injuries the previous day.

“After the first shot on the hip, screaming would have been possible, and expression of fear or anguish,” Saayman said. “It would be abnormal for someone not to scream.”

Some of Pistorius’ neighbors said in their court testimonies last week they heard a woman screaming during the shooting, but Pistorius’ lawyer insists what they heard were high-pitched cries from his client.

If found guilty of murder, Pistorius faces at least 25 years behind bars.

The killing has ignited debate about gun control and domestic violence in South Africa, where many women die at the hands of relatives.

(Writing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Ed Cropley and Angus MacSwan)

Recent Headlines

10 hours ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

superbowlball

Here’s a look at some of this weekend’s major sporting events.

11 hours ago in Sports

The week’s best sports shots

Mark Macaspac leaps off the Super Bowl 50 sign inside Super Bowl City Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in San Francisco. The Denver Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

A look at some of the biggest moments and best plays in sports this week.

11 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: Puppies predict Super Bowl 50

15-overlay-5

Right or wrong, one thing is for sure: these puppies are adorable!

11 hours ago in Sports

Broncos, Panthers set to deliver Super finish to season

16-overlay-4

The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are primed to provide a grand finish worthy of a landmark Super Bowl 50 on Sunday and cap a season of celebration by the National Football League.

11 hours ago in National

Making headlines this week

sb50

A look back at some of the biggest stories this week and the headlines you may have missed.