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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Oregon

February 23, 2017

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JONATHAN ROBERT WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted August 30, 2016

         Clackamas County Circuit Court CR1313468; A158275 Robert D. Herndon, Judge.

          Anna Melichar, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Dustin Buehler, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and DeVore, Judge, and Haselton, Senior Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of interfering with a peace officer, ORS 162.247. Defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for a judgment of acquittal. On appeal, defendant argues that the state failed to present sufficient evidence that the officer's order to exit his vehicle was lawful, as it was not justified by the officer safety doctrine. Held: There was sufficient evidence in the record and a lawful basis for the trial court to conclude that the officer safety doctrine justified the officer's order to exit the vehicle. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal.

         Affirmed.

          DEVORE, J.

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for interfering with a peace officer. A person commits the offense of interfering with a peace officer, when, "knowing that another person is a peace officer, " he or she "[r] efuses to obey a lawful order by the peace officer * * *." ORS 162.247(1) (b). Defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for a judgment of acquittal. He argues that the state failed to present sufficient evidence that the deputy's order to exit his vehicle was lawful. The state argues that the order was justified by the officer safety doctrine.

         When we review the denial of a motion for a judgment of acquittal, we view the facts in the light most favorable to the state. State v. Evans. 161 Or.App. 86, 89, 983 P.2d 1055 (1999). We conclude that there is sufficient evidence and a lawful basis for the trial court to determine that the officer safety doctrine justified the deputy's order to exit the vehicle. Therefore, we affirm.

         In a bench trial, deputies Sheldon and Shelly testified about the events that led to the charge. In November 2013, they were dispatched to a house in a "fairly high crime" area in Milwaukie. Dispatch had received information from a caller about a suspected burglary. The caller was not identified at trial. The caller said that two people were using a key to gain entry to the house, that the caller was a friend of the homeowner, and that the homeowner was out of town so no one should be present at the house at that time.

         It was dark outside as the deputies approached the house. Although there were street lights in the area, the overhead trees and shrubbery rendered the lights "pretty much null and void." The only illumination was the deputies' flashlights. In the driveway, Shelly saw what he thought was a Ford Explorer that was backed into the driveway pointed out toward the road. Based on his training and experience, Sheldon recognized "that's a faster way to get out of a location." A vehicle will "typically back in" if the driver is "planning to make a speedy retreat." The headlights were turned off. Someone was inside the vehicle in the driver's seat. Because dispatch said that two people were attempting to break into the house, Sheldon was concerned that "possibly one [person] had gotten into the house and one was sitting in the car."

         The deputies identified themselves to defendant and asked him to roll down the window. They "just wanted to talk to him, figure out * * * why he was parked in that driveway, what his reason for being there was." Defendant did not roll down the window. He became "very agitated and started digging around by the center console area and the other side of the passenger seat." Neither deputy could see what defendant was attempting to reach, but they were nervous that he was looking for a weapon. A center console, according to Sheldon, is a "concealable spot that makes it very easy for that person to access weapons [or] any other things that they might use to hurt [the deputies]." Sheldon considered defendant's actions to be "extremely suspicious behavior given the circumstances." Sheldon ordered defendant to put his hands on the steering wheel, and defendant initially complied. Defendant asked why the deputies were there. Speaking loudly through the window, Sheldon explained that the deputies were investigating a potential burglary. At that point, defendant again "became agitated" and "reached down and grabbed his cell phone." Shelly drew his gun, and ...


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