Almost three years after two Philadelphia SWAT officers stared death in the face inside the basement of an Oxford Circle row home, a city judge threw the book at the gunman who almost took their lives.
Not only did Nasuil “Nas” Martinez shoot two cops with a .45-caliber pistol at point-blank range on Dec. 22, 2010, Martinez killed a man one day earlier and wounded a third cop 11 days before that.
Last Wednesday, Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn B. Bronson found Martinez guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying as well as numerous other charges related to the two other shootings. Martinez, 23, of Kensington, will be sentenced to life in prison without parole on Feb. 14. Martinez has been behind bars since his arrest following a three-hour showdown with police on the 800 block of Sanger St., during which he shot Sgt. Christopher Binns in the temple and Officer Francis Whalen in the heart. Both SWAT members survived thanks to ballistic gear, including a Kevlar-coated helmet and a flak vest with a ceramic “trauma plate” insertion.
Neither officer was injured seriously, but the slugs left startling indentations in their gear.
“Obviously, it’s nothing short of miraculous that the officers are here with us today,” Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said soon after the episode. “Had they been patrol officers, we could be planning their funerals today.”
SWAT went to the house in search of Martinez after receiving tips that he was holed up there. Binns and Whalen entered the basement and opened a door. Martinez opened fire on them. The officers returned fire while retreating. They wounded Martinez in the shoulder.
After a couple of hours of negotiation, Martinez indicated to police that he would surrender. Just then, police heard another gunshot. Martinez had shot himself accidentally in the neck, but survived.
At the time, Martinez was wanted in connection with the Dec. 10, 2010, wounding of officer Kevin Gorman of the 25th district following a car stop and foot chase. In that incident, Gorman was investigating suspected drag racing when he stopped a car with four occupants at 3300 N. Howard St.
Martinez bolted from the vehicle, ran into an alley, hopped over a fence and fired at the pursuing Gorman, who suffered a graze wound of the shoulder. Gorman was treated at an area hospital and released hours later. Martinez escaped.
With Martinez in custody after the Dec. 22, 2010, shootout, police obtained photos of him wearing distinctive jewelry that had been stolen during the Dec. 21, 2010, slaying of Carlos Fernandez during a home invasion robbery. Authorities added murder charges against Martinez.
Although Martinez had no criminal convictions prior to the three shootings, he was well-known to police. He had been arrested in September 2010 in connection with an aggravated assault and an unrelated drug case. He then skipped a bail hearing and became a wanted man. Before that, he was arrested in March 2009 on assault and gun charges, but prosecutors withdrew the case for unspecified reasons. ••