Closing arguments were made Tuesday morning in the trial for Thomas Latanowich, the man accused of killing Yarmouth police Sgt. Sean Gannon over three years ago. Now the jury deliberates.
Gannon, 32, the department’s K-9 officer, was killed in April 2018 while he and other officers were serving an arrest warrant for a possible probation violation at a Barnstable home.
Latanowich, of Somerville, faces a murder charge in Barnstable Superior Court. He testified Monday that he never intended to shoot a police officer. Latanowich said he'd recently had a run-in with someone he thought was trying to kill him related to drug dealing and thought that's who was at the house on the day Gannon was shot and killed.
His attorney, Joseph Krowski Jr., reiterated that point in his closing argument, which started shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday. Krowski asserted that Latanowich didn't know police were there or who he was shooting at since he was hiding in a hole covered in isolation in the attic and feared for his life.
Prosecutor Michael Trudeau countered that Latanowich did, in fact, know police were there. In his closing argument, Trudeau read off several text and voice messages between Latanowich and Krystal Bearse, the mother of his daughter, that amounted to 27 minutes of conversation.
Latanowich made statements like, "they got the house surrounded," and "I might be getting locked up." Six minutes after Gannon was shot, Latanowich sent a text that said, "I just shot a cop. There's no way out. I killed a cop," followed by, "I'm taking as many as I can." In that conversation, Latanowich did not say that he didn't know the person he shot was a police officer, Bearse said during her testimony.
"That speaks volumes with respect to the knowledge of the defendant as to what he had done," Trudeau said Tuesday.
Krowski asserted that police tried to "cover up," the fact that there was "zero adherence to proper police work." Citing a lack of planning, chain of command, staging area and intelligence gathering, he said that police were "improvising," and that the operation was "devoid of leadership."
"None of the policies and procedures that are good police practice were put in place. Instead, there's this half assed plan - let's get a canine and let's go into the house," Krowski said. "These plans and these policies and this training isn't made out of thin air. It's designed for a reason to avoid situations like this."
A perimeter was established outside the house, Trudeau said in his closing argument. Officers met outside and came up with a plan before entering the front door and making "several, loud and clear announcements," that they were there, Trudeau said.
Krowski said police knew they "cast caution aside," and "violated, good and proper police work," pointing to a lack of reports on the incident and police meetings with union representatives and attorneys after the fact.
"It is no dispute that Officer Gannon died, suffering a single gunshot wound. There is no dispute when it happened and there is no dispute how it happened," Krowski said. "There's certainly a significant dispute why it happened. The death of Officer Sean Gannon was an avoidable tragedy - the byproduct of an inept incompetent rudderless so-called police operation."
In an attempt to destroy evidence, Latanowich watched a YouTube video on how to take apart a gun, hid the money and flushed the drugs, Trudeau said. But not before taking a video of himself sitting on top of the attic in Officer Gannon's blood, still holding the gun in his hand.
"You have been presented with a chain of compelling, overwhelming evidence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Trudeau said to the jury. "The lock that secures that chain is your common sense and again, don't be afraid to use it. And remember, this is the search for truth."
"It is not your role to try to avenge the loss of a fallen hero." Krowski told the jury. "Your role and your deliberative process has to be cold and dispassionate and scientific."
The jury deliberated for about two hours before breaking for the day. They will resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.