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City of St. Louis v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

January 9, 2018

CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Respondent,
v.
EMMANUEL V. JONES, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Hon. Nicole Colbert-Botchway

          OPINION

          Angela T. Quigless, J

         Emmanuel V. Jones ("Defendant") appeals from the judgment of the circuit court convicting him of one count of resisting arrest following a bench trial. Defendant argues the court erred in finding him guilty because there was insufficient evidence he knew, or reasonably should have known, he was under arrest, and the court erred in speculating that the arresting officer warned Defendant he was under arrest because there was no evidence to support this finding. We affirm the judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         We review the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment. State v. Hutson, 487 S.W.3d 100, 109 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016).

         On the evening of May 29, 2015, Defendant was participating in a peaceful protest march in downtown St. Louis. There was heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic downtown due to a baseball game and it being Friday night. Throughout the evening, Defendant and approximately two dozen other protesters walked into the streets, impeding traffic. Numerous uniformed police officers patrolling the area repeatedly warned the protesters, including Defendant, to "get out of the street" and that anyone who failed to comply could be arrested. At times, the protesters complied with the officers' warning and temporarily moved back onto the sidewalks, but later returned to the street. The warnings continued throughout the evening.

         Shortly before midnight, Defendant and the other protesters were marching through traffic down the middle of Washington Avenue. When the protesters reached Tucker Boulevard, they crossed the intersection into traffic against the traffic light, blocking traffic and endangering pedestrians and vehicles. After this incident, Lieutenant Dan Zarrick ("Lt. Zarrick"), the commanding officer of the St. Louis Police unit monitoring the protest, decided it was time to start arresting the protesters for impeding traffic. Lt. Zarrick called additional officers to the area and ordered an officer to announce that protestors not obeying orders to get out of the street would be placed under arrest. Lt. Zarrick then ordered his officers to start making arrests. Officer Daniel Osorio ("Officer Osorio"), a bike patrol officer assigned to the downtown area, responded to Lt. Zarrick's call. He was in uniform when he arrived on the scene.

         Four videos were stipulated to and admitted into evidence by the parties. The video relevant to Defendant's arrest showed Lt. Zarrick, Officer Osorio, and several other officers approaching a small group of protesters, including Defendant. Officer Osorio testified that Lt. Zarrick yelled "grab anybody, they're all under arrest, they're all in the street." On the video, an officer can be heard stating, "Grab anybody, they're all in the streets." As the officers began arresting one of the protesters standing with Defendant, Defendant and two other protesters started walking away. Officer Osorio testified he commanded Defendant to "stop, " although this is not heard on the video. The video then shows Officer Osorio run in front of Defendant with his Taser drawn and shout, "Get back!" Defendant ignored Officer Osorio's verbal commands and continued walking towards him, stating "no, I'm going this way, I'm leaving." When Defendant was a few feet away, Officer Osorio again shouted, "Get back!" Defendant then quickly zigzagged left, then right, pushed Officer Osorio's shoulder with his hand, and ran past him. In response, Officer Osorio aimed his Taser at Defendant and fired, causing Defendant to fall to the ground. Officer Osorio then placed Defendant under arrest for impeding traffic and resisting arrest.

         Defendant was charged with resisting arrest, in violation of Section 15.10.010[1] of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis ("Section 15.10.010" or the "Ordinance"). Defendant was found guilty following a bench trial in the City of St. Louis Municipal Court. Defendant timely appealed his conviction and requested a trial de novo in the circuit court. Defendant was again found guilty following a bench trial in the circuit court. Defendant was sentenced to pay a $500 fine. This appeal follows.

         Points on Appeal

         Defendant raises two points on appeal. In Point I, Defendant argues the circuit court erred in finding him guilty of resisting arrest because the City's evidence was insufficient to sustain a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in that no evidence was offered at trial in which a reasonable factfinder could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, he was under arrest during the events for which he is charged. In Point II, Defendant argues the circuit court erred when it speculated that Officer Osorio issued a warning of arrest to Defendant because it was improper for the court to supply missing evidence and the evidence presented at trial did not support the court's speculation in that two witnesses testified that Officer Osorio did not issue a warning of arrest and the video entered into evidence did not reflect a warning of arrest from Officer Osorio.

         Discussion

         I. Point One - Sufficiency of the Evidence for Resisting Arrest

         Defendant's argument in Point I requires us to determine whether there was sufficient evidence of Defendant's mental state to support his conviction for resisting arrest. When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction, appellate review is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence was presented from which a reasonable factfinder could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Hutson, 487 S.W.3d at 108; see State v. Clark, 490 S.W.3d 704, 707 (Mo. banc 2016). We view the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, disregarding any contrary evidence and inferences. Hutson, 487 S.W.3d at 108. However, this Court "may not supply missing evidence, or give the [State] the benefit of unreasonable, speculative or forced inferences." Clark, 490 S.W.3d at 707. This court "does not act as a super juror with veto powers but gives great deference to the trier of fact." State v. Lewis, 466 S.W.3d 629, 631 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015). We will not reweigh the evidence because "the fact-finder may believe all, some, or none of the testimony of a witness when ...


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