New York - Bernhard Goetz testified yesterday that "that smile" and "that shine" in one of his black victim's eyes made him believe he was about to be mugged on a Manhattan subway train in 1984, causing him to open fire. He also acknowledged that he had thought about gouging out the wounded youth's eyes with his keys.
His testimony came in a $50m (pounds 33m) lawsuit against him filed by one of four young black men he shot 12 years ago. It was the first time the white electronics consultant had testified about the case.
He said that he thought the world might be "a better place" if people like a white, drug-crazed beggar who once accosted him were killed.
Darrell Cabey, who was paralysed in the subway shooting, was in court as Mr Goetz told of twice drawing an illegal handgun on people he thought were threatening him. Both incidents happened several years before he shot Mr Cabey and the three other youths in December 1984.
Mr Goetz, 48, claims he shot them after they menaced him for $5; they say that they were begging. In his opening statement, Mr Cabey's attorney, Ronald Kuby, said that Mr Goetz was a racist.
Mr Goetz never took the stand in his criminal trial. He was acquitted of the most serious charges, but convicted of gun violations and spent 250 days in jail.
Yesterday, Mr Goetz said that he did not believe Mr Cabey was brain- damaged and "I think he knows almost exactly what happened in that (subway) car".
A videotaped statement made by Mr Goetz nine days after the shootings was also shown to jurors. In it, he said: "People are looking for a hero, for a villain - none of it's the truth. It's not Clint Eastwood, it's not ... Death Wish, it's not taking the law into your own hands. This is survival instinct."