Cop-Killer, Randall Wayne Hafdahl, Sr. was executed by lethal injection in Texas on this day, January 31, 2002, for the murder of Officer James D. Mitchell. I got the information about the slain cop from ODMP and the cop killer from clarkprosecutor.org
|Officer James D. Mitchell|
Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 16 years
Badge # Not available
Incident Date: 11/11/1985
Weapon: Handgun; 9 mm
Suspect: Executed in 2002
Sergeant Mitchell was shot and killed while returning home from work. when he stopped to render aid at the scene of a one-car accident he witnessed on I-27. The driver of the vehicle began to flee. When Sergeant Mitchell ordered him to stop he opened fire with a 9 mm handgun, striking Sergeant Mitchell four times.The shooter was sentenced to death and is scheduled to be executed in 2002.
Sergeant Mitchell had been with the agency for 16 years and was survived by his wife and two daughters.
Randall Wayne Hafdahl, Sr.
ProDeathPenalty.com: The defendant showed no remorse as 47th District Judge David Gleason scheduled his lethal injection for murdering an Amarillo police officer. After Gleason set Jan. 31 as the execution date, Randal Wayne Hafdahl said, "Sounds good to me." "That reveals his demeanor and attitude from the beginning," Randall County Criminal District Attorney James Farren said. "He's showed complete disdain."
Jurors sentenced Hafdahl to death April 7, 1986, for murdering Amarillo Police Department Sgt. James Mitchell who was 42 at the time of his death in 1985. Shortly after 4:00 p.m. on November 11, 1985, Randal Wayne Hafdahl shot and killed Sergeant James D. Mitchell, Jr., of the Amarillo, Texas police department. Hafdahl had been driving across Texas with two friends. Hafdahl, who admits that he had been consuming alcohol and hallucinogenic mushrooms earlier in the day, was driving recklessly and lost control of his car. The car left the highway, crossed a frontage road, crashed through a wooden fence around a private residence, and eventually came to rest in the backyard. When the car would not start, Hafdahl took a loaded 9mm pistol from the glove box, hid it under his coat, and attempted to flee. He testified that he wanted to hide the gun because he knew the police would arrive soon and discover that he was a convicted felon (for possession of a controlled substance) who had stopped reporting to his probation officer.
Sergeant Mitchell was driving home from work when he witnessed the accident. He was still dressed in his police uniform and was wearing an unzipped windbreaker with "Amarillo City Police" and a badge insignia emblazoned on it. Hafdahl testified that he first saw Mitchell when the officer entered the backyard through the downed fence. At that point, Hafdahl turned from Mitchell and tried to escape through a gate, which he could not unlatch. Mitchell pursued Hafdahl across the yard and, according to one eyewitness, identified himself as a policeman and ordered Hafdahl to stop. Mitchell apparently had his police revolver drawn, although he never fired a shot. When Mitchell had almost caught up with him, Hafdahl turned and shot Mitchell four times from approximately six feet away. Hafdahl was then indicted for the capital offense of murdering a police officer.
The critical issue at trial was whether Hafdahl knew that Mitchell was an officer. Hafdahl testified that he believed Mitchell was an angry motorist whom Hafdahl had run off the road. Hafdahl contends that, because he was under the influence of drugs and the events took place so quickly, he did not realize Mitchell was a police officer until after he had fired the fatal shots. As the district court observed, however, the State put on extensive evidence that Hafdahl must have known that Mitchell was an officer. First, a worker who was only 20 to 25 feet from the crime scene, testified that Mitchell identified himself as a police officer as he approached Hafdahl. Numerous witnesses testified that Mitchell was gesturing and yelling at Hafdahl but that they were too far away to hear what he was saying. When asked whether Mitchell had ever identified himself as an officer, Hafdahl replied, "I can't say if he did or he didn't. All I can say is I didn't hear him." Second, twelve witnesses, most of whom had stopped on the highway, testified that they immediately recognized Mitchell as a police officer because of his uniform. One of Hafdahl's traveling companions, who was still in the car when Mitchell entered the yard, testified that Mitchell's police uniform was plainly visible and he knew Mitchell was an officer " the second I saw him. . . . No doubt in my mind." As noted above, Hafdahl admits that he saw Mitchell when he entered the backyard through the downed fence. The State argued that Hafdahl would have noticed the police uniform and the Amarillo City Police windbreaker. Third, Hafdahl shot Mitchell at close range and could not have failed to notice Mitchell's uniform. Although the estimates varied somewhat, two ballistics experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that Hafdahl was no more than six feet from Mitchell when he fired the shots, and one of Hafdahl's companions testified that Hafdahl was approximately three to five feet from Mitchell. Even if one assumed that Hafdahl had not noticed Mitchell's uniform when he entered the yard, the State suggested, Hafdahl surely would have seen the uniform before firing the fatal shots from such close range.
To further establish that Hafdahl was close enough to know that Mitchell was an officer, the State called, among others, Ralph Erdmann, a forensic pathologist. The crux of Erdmann's testimony was that (1) Hafdahl shot Mitchell four times with a semiautomatic 9mm pistol; (2) the first two shots were non-fatal wounds to the abdomen and arm; (3) Hafdahl moved closer to Mitchell while firing, although it was not clear how quickly the shots were fired; (4) both the third and fourth shots to the chest were mandatorily fatal; and (5) judging from the gunpowder stippling specks on Mitchell's face, Hafdahl was approximately two and a half feet from Mitchell when the final shot was fired. Erdmann explained to the jury that many of the assumptions underlying his conclusions were drawn from the reports and conclusions of the investigating officers. His testimony often indicated that the autopsy results were "consistent" with the officers' theories. To support its argument that Hafdahl intentionally killed Mitchell, the State put on evidence that Hafdahl had a motive to avoid apprehension. Two Texas officers (one from Rockwall, the other from Grand Prairie) testified that they had arrested Hafdahl on a warrant for aggravated kidnapping and turned the case over to the FBI. During the guilt phase, neither officer testified about the details of the alleged kidnapping. Neither officer purported to know how the FBI had resolved the case. The implication was that Hafdahl might have believed he was a wanted man and, consequently, that he killed Mitchell in order to evade capture.
The jury convicted Hafdahl of capital murder on April 4, 1986. During the sentencing phase, the State requested the death penalty and introduced additional evidence as to the three required "special issues": (1) Whether Hafdahl deliberately killed Mitchell; (2) whether Hafdahl's response to Mitchell's provocation, if any, was unreasonable; and (3) whether Hafdahl would probably commit criminal acts of violence in the future. Erdmann was not called to testify further, but the police officers testified in more detail about the kidnapping arrest. The jury then sentenced Hafdahl to death on April 7, 1986. The execution date being set followed the end of 16 years of appeals. A 10-man team of Randall County Sheriff's deputies and bailiffs guarded the courtroom. The entire Justice Building in Canyon also was under heavy security provided by deputies and Canyon police officers. Hafdahl, 48, wore shackles on his ankles, and his wrists were locked to a chain around his waist when Sheriff Joel Richardson brought him into the courtroom.
Mitchell suffered multiple gunshot wounds Nov. 11, 1985, when he was returning home from work and stopped to investigate a traffic accident involving a car that skidded off the interstate and into the back yard of a residence. "The first shot struck Sgt. Mitchell's wrist and disarmed him, he was helpless," Farren said. "Hafdahl continued to approach and executed him. He continued to pump rounds into Sgt. Mitchell. If he is willing to kill a police officer, he certainly is not afraid of you or me." The three occupants of the wrecked car were fleeing the scene when Hafdahl was stopped by a fence gate that would not open. According to trial testimony, Mitchell, who was wearing his uniform, ordered Hafdahl to stop. Under questioning from one of his defense attorneys, Hafdahl testified at his trial that he was "pretty messed up" on hallucinogenic mushrooms and gin the afternoon he killed Mitchell. He admitted shooting the officer with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol but said he did not know Mitchell was a policeman. "I heard somebody coming up behind me, and I just spun around and started firing," Hafdahl said. Five officers from Texas and Colorado, testifying for the state, told the court they knew Hafdahl to be a difficult individual to deal with. During cross-examination by the defense, 1 of these officers told the court about a 1982 kidnapping incident in which Hafdahl was charged. He was never indicted for the kidnapping. The officer said the alleged kidnapping victim was taken forcefully by Hafdahl and two accomplices from Grand Prairie to Colorado and then transported to Wyoming. She eventually escaped and told police she had been beaten, gagged and had her life threatened. Colorado police reports said while there, Hafdahl worked as an enforcer at a methamphetamine operation known as Bates Farm. The report said Hafdahl oversaw the entire drug operation and he was known to carry a weapon at the farm on a daily basis. Ken Farren, chief deputy in the Potter County Sheriff's Department, worked for about 12 years with Mitchell and attended Friday's hearing. "Hafdahl said in the courtroom it was fine with him, and today is fine with us," Ken Farren said. "Jim was somebody I could lean on. It's time for justice to be served."
The widow and daughters of slain policeman James Mitchell came to Canyon to see a judge set the execution date for the killer of their husband and father. "After 16 years it's about time. We have been through it every step of the way, and I'm looking forward to reaching a conclusion. It has taken a toll on my family," said Ellen Mitchell Stone, the widow of Amarillo Police Department Sgt. James Mitchell. "My girls were 8 and 9 when their father was killed. Now, they have graduated from college, are married and have jobs." State and federal appeals kept the case from reaching a resolution. Jurors sentenced Randal Hafdahl, now 48, to death April 7, 1986, for murdering Mitchell, who was 42 at the time of his death in 1985. At the hearing, Judge David Gleason set Jan. 31 as the date an executioner will give Hafdahl his lethal injection. "It's a shame their whole lives have been exposed to this bureaucracy. There was never any doubt he did it. He admitted it on the stand," Ellen Mitchell Stone said. "It just let his attorney manipulate the system with reams and reams of motions. It is time it came to an end."
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