Man accused of shooting Chattanooga police officer pleads guilty - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Man accused of shooting Chattanooga police officer pleads guilty

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A man accused of shooting a Chattanooga police officer five times pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday morning after a plea deal was offered.

Celvin Montez Houston, 41, faces one count of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon in federal court after he reportedly shot and wounded Chattanooga Police Officer William McMillan on March 12, 2013 at East Lake Court projects.

McMillan was dispatched to a call on Fourth Avenue, but minutes later he was called to a disturbance next door. Houston tried to hide behind a screen door. When McMillan went to approach him, Houston opened the door and began shooting with a .40 caliber handgun.

McMillan was wounded and tried to take cover. He returned fire with his .45 caliber service weapon. McMillan sustained more gunshot wounds before another responding officer pulled him into a patrol car and took him to a local hospital.

Houston stood at the podium Tuesday wearing a yellow jump suit from Hamilton County Jail with court appointed attorney Amanda Dunn -- his fifth attorney in the case.

His hands were cuffed and his legs were shackled as he answered questions. The weapons charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervision and up to $250,000 in fines.

The proposed deal would require Houston to serve seven years followed by three years of supervision, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole.

The federal plea deal, which must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Harry Mattice, is contingent upon a deal being made with the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office.

Mattice said that's unusual in plea deals. It will take four months to conduct a pre-sentence investigation.

"I'm going to have to know a lot more about you and your case," Mattice told Houston in court. 

Investigators collected the gun reportedly used by Houston who later tossed after it jammed. Articles of clothing worn by him that day were collected as well as his cell phone. 

Witnesses told police that Houston contacted them saying he needed money to get out of town after shooting a police officer.

Attorneys alluded to a deal being made in state court, but noted that one had not been reached yet.

Houston faces charges of attempted 1st degree murder, aggravated assault and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony in Hamilton County Criminal Court stemming from the same case. Attempted 1st degree murder is a class A felony. He could face between 15 to 25 years, if convicted.

"It may be the district attorney or state judge want to know what I'm going to do," Mattice said.

If the federal deal is approved, Houston agrees to waive his right to appeal and forfeits his right to make Freedom of Information Act requests. If Mattice does not sign off, then Houston will be allowed to change his plea again.

Houston has prior charges including aggravated assault, evading arrest, theft, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Days before McMillan was shot, Houston picked up charges for attempted 1st degree murder and aggravated robbery in another incident. Those charges are also still pending in state court.

Houston is scheduled to appear in federal court at 9 a.m. December 14 to learn if Mattice will sign off on the plea deal. His next court date in state court is scheduled for September 28.

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