JRL was just 18 years old when arrested for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer using a deadly weapon, i.e.: a car. This charge was punishable by up to 15 years in prison. His mother retained Jeffrey H. Garland shortly after the arrest.
Garland employed Investigator Brad Perron to evaluate the “crime scene”. The defense investigation developed evidence which significantly mitigated, explained or contradicted the police officer’s version of events.
Port St. Lucie (PSL) Police Officer Black responded to a suspicious activity call on January 20, 2007, at about 4:10 A.M. The residential neighborhood was very dark.
Ofc. Black said he was standing in the middle of a residential street with no lights or reflective clothing.
Ofc. Black said he saw three males run toward a green Mitsubishi Eclipse. Ofc. Black said the car began accelerating toward him, and would have run him over, except that he jumped out of the way.
One issue in the case concerned the visibility of the officer and whether the driver intended to nearly run him over.
According to his report, the officer said he yelled, “Police”, but did not order the subjects to “stop” or “freeze”. The officer said he had a flashlight and was shining it on the car. The officer said he was illuminated by the car’s headlights.
The defense investigation suggested either that the officer was too close to be illuminated by the lights as the car pulled onto the street, or too far away to be heard if he had yelled. If the officer was close by, why did he not apprehend the trio before they got into the car? If the officer were far away, how could he see in the dark to identify the trio and, especially, to identify the driver of the car? How well does a police flashlight illuminate 50-100-150 yard distances?
In any event, it was questionable whether the officer was authorized to detain the subjects. Even if detention were authorized, he never told the subjects to stop.
There were other PSL police cars in the immediate area. Even though the officer claimed to have been nearly run over, there was no evidence that he radioed for help or assistance.
The defense secured from 911 all recorded radio and dispatch transmissions for this incident. The lack of a call for help was established by the 911 records. If an officer had suffered a “near death” experience, would he not want to warn other officers or provide a description to enable fellow officers to swiftly apprehend the suspect?
Based upon these circumstances, JRL pled to a misdemeanor charge and received a one-yer term of probation on Mach 23, 2007.