Jury sides with defendant in gun case

Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:44pm
By: John Munford

Man accused of trying to grab deputy’s gun in scuffle

A north Fayette man accused of attempting to wrestle a deputy’s gun from its holster while he was being handcuffed Aug. 25 has been acquitted by the jury in the case.

Wayne Marshall Williams, 52, was found not guilty Tuesday of the only charge lodged against him: attempted removal of a peace officer's weapon. This was his second trial on the same charge as a jury in March couldn't come to a unanimous decision, resulting in a mistrial.

Williams testified that he did nothing wrong and complied with the orders of two deputies ... a different story from that given by the deputies earlier in the trial during their testimony. Dep. James Pitts testified that he and his supervisor went to Williams’s home on a report from a 911 call that he had tried to run over his wife.

After a brief pursuit up the driveway to the residence, Pitts said he approached Williams’s SUV on foot with his gun drawn. Pitts said Williams didn’t initially comply with orders to exit the vehicle and show his hands. Seconds later Williams exited the vehicle but refused to comply with orders to get on the ground, Pitts said. and the deputy said he then holstered his weapon and grabbed Williams by the front of his shirt, pulling him face down to the ground.

Pitts said he then got on top of Williams and handcuffed his left hand, but then he felt a tug at his gun and heard another deputy shout at Williams to leave the gun alone. Pitts said he then punched Williams four times in the area of his shoulders and head before Williams stopped and was able to be handcuffed.

Williams testified that he never reached back for the gun and never fought with any of the deputies on the scene.

Williams admitted that he was trying to get his wife’s attention just before deputies arrived by driving his Yukon SUV towards her Mustang car, as they traveled in a circle with their vehicles face to face and his wife driving backwards.

“We kind of did a dance,” Williams said. “I might have bumped her, she might have bumped me, I’m not sure.”

Williams admitted that in retrospect it wasn’t a good idea to pursue his wife in that manner, but he wanted to talk to her before she left to take two family members back to college in Alabama. Williams said he was surprised to come home from a seven-hour drive from Daytona to find that his wife had not yet made the trip to Alabama.

Williams said he had driven since about three or four in the morning from Daytona where he had dropped off one of his sons for college.

At first Williams testified that he was surprised when he first saw the deputy’s lights in his rear view mirror because he had no reason to believe they were coming after him. Later in his testimony he admitted, “I thought my wife had called them.”

Williams said he was scared that he was going to be shot if he didn’t comply with the deputies orders after he stopped the SUV.

District Attorney Scott Ballard then asked Williams if he was so afraid for his life that he reached for the deputy’s gun in a bid to defend himself. For a split second, a smile flashed across Williams’s face before he turned serious and again denied the allegation.

Earlier in Williams’s testimony, Ballard made it a point to note that Williams said specifically, “I deny I have any memory or recollection of touching the gun” instead of saying he didn’t touch the gun at all.

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