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The Astonishing Motor 8

In less than two weeks, May 20 to be exact, the final segment in the brutal and senseless shooting of an Alexandria police officer gets under way in the city’s Franklin P. Backus Courthouse.

Officer Peter Laboy was shot in the head on routine daytime duty, suffering a catastrophic brain injury, on Feb. 27. This story has resonated around the Commonwealth and throughout the nation and generated thousands of prayers on his behalf.

The word “miraculous” has been the description of doctors, nurses, well-wishers and print and broadcast media for his recovery. The outpouring of support for the injured veteran police officer seems unprecedented and his well-being in speaking and walking is nothing short of astonishing.

There is much more progress to be made but Officer Laboy seems well on his way.

The 17-year veteran police officer is known as “Motor 8” in his motorcycle unit. He is a beloved family man with four sons and nurse wife and has served distinctively in the police department. His resume includes tenure as a detective, a crash investigator and is a member of the Hostage Negotiation Team.

Laboy is also known as “Superman,” his favorite superhero.

On May 20, charges of malicious assault to a law enforcement officer and use of a firearm in a felony assault by the alleged shooter Kashif Bashir will be presented to the Alexandria Circuit Court grand jury.

Bashir, a 27-year-old Prince William County resident, only has had traffic charges in the past. He was cited for failing to obey traffic signal in 2007, speeding in 2009, failing to pay attention while driving in 2012 and failing to obey a highway sign in November 2012.

Bashir was unshackled and without leg irons as he sat impassively during the April 11 preliminary hearing in Alexandria General District Court. Security was heavy with some 10 sheriff’s deputies on duty and a large presence of uniformed motorcycle officers.

His family members sat somberly during the three-and-a-half hour proceedings. They appeared frightened, alone and did not comment to the heavy media contingent.

The story of the day belonged to the prosecutors where the job of Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter was to present probable cause that Bashir was the shooter of Officer Laboy. He was joined by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Sullivan.

Porter’s assignments are cases involving homicides, firearm offenses, assaults on police officers and are vice and narcotics case supervisor. Sullivan handles vehicular manslaughter and maiming cases, hit and run and arsons.

Porter brought up police witnesses and a state forensic scientist to describe the shooting and how the alleged shooter, Bashir, raced down the George Washington Parkway and then on Fort Hunt Road where he was nabbed by a Fairfax County police officer.

It was not a pleasure to recall the incidents of that fateful day. Suzanne Laboy listened to the charges, too.

Bashir’s public defenders — Emily Beckman and Stephanie Snyder — heard the charges, made notes and also questioned the witnesses. They didn’t call any witnesses on behalf of their client and Chief Judge Becky J. Moore certified the charges to the grand jury. Without comment, deputies removed Bashir from the courtroom back to jail to await the grand jury.

Of course, this story isn’t over. No reason for the shooting was attributed to Bashir in the hearing. There may be one but that may be learned in Circuit Court.

Whether Officer Laboy appears either in court or in court as a witness certainly depends on his physical progress.

The annual Alexandria Police and Sheriff’s Memorial Service was held Thursday at First Baptist Church. It has a special meaning this year as Police Week gets under way May 12. Law enforcement personnel will take time to remember their special calling. It would be exceptional if Peter Laboy is able to attend, too.

Meanwhile, the young man charged with pulling the trigger of a .9mm will be sitting in an isolated jail cell awaiting his fate, considering the consequences.