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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

May 22, 2018

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
SHAYTWIN LAMOR SMITH, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF RANDOLPH COUNTY, MISSOURI THE HONORABLE CYNTHIA A. SUTER, JUDGE

          Before Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, Lisa White Hardwick, Judge and Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Judge

          EDWARD R. ARDINI, JUDGE.

         Shaytwin Smith ("Smith") appeals his conviction for the class A misdemeanor of resisting arrest following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Randolph County, Missouri, arguing that the trial court erred in overruling his motions for judgment of acquittal. Smith alleges that the State failed to present evidence that he used or threatened to use physical force prior to his arrest. Based on the Missouri Supreme Court's recent decision in State v. Ajak, SC96333, 2018 WL 1599784 (Mo. banc Apr. 3, 2018), we find that law enforcement officers established "control over [Smith's] movements" when he was handcuffed, at which point his arrest was completed for purposes of section 575.150.1(1).[1] Because the evidence was insufficient to show that Smith's conduct prior to his arrest being effectuated involved the use or threatened use of violence or physical force or that he attempted to flee from the officers, the judgment of the trial court is reversed.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]

         Following an investigation into a traffic incident, Huntsville Officer Nathan Howard and Trooper James Rowe of the Missouri State Highway Patrol went to Smith's home to arrest him for driving while suspended and leaving the scene of an accident. When they arrived, Smith was on his front porch. Officer Howard informed Smith that he was being placed under arrest and specified the underlying offenses. Smith was not cooperative, asking, "What's the proof?" and informing the officers that he was recording them. Smith was commanded to stand up, turn around, and place his hands behind his back. Instead, he stood up, removed his shirt, and threw a knife to the ground while yelling statements such as "I'm not going to jail" and extending his arms to the side.

         According to Trooper Rowe, Smith presented "passive resistance" by failing to cooperate or obey the officers' commands and having an argumentative and agitated demeanor throughout the process. In response, Trooper Rowe applied pepper spray, which allowed the officers to gain control of Smith and apply handcuffs.

         After being handcuffed, the officers began to escort Smith to Officer Howard's patrol vehicle. Smith purposely went limp and fell to the ground. After returning Smith to his feet and descending the porch stairs, Smith again purposely went limp but was caught by the officers. As the officers continued to walk him toward the patrol vehicle, Smith threw his body weight back and forth and wrapped his legs around Trooper Rowe's legs in an effort to trip the officer as he yelled about police brutality. As the officers attempted to place him in the patrol vehicle, Smith wrapped his legs around the door and pushed against it with his foot. Once placed inside the vehicle, Officer Howard held Smith down while Trooper Rowe went to the other side to latch the seatbelt.

         A jury found Smith guilty of misdemeanor resisting arrest under section 575.150. This appeal follows.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Our review "is limited to whether the State has introduced sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could have found each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Ajak, 2018 WL 1599784, at *2 (citing State v. Hunt, 451 S.W.3d 251, 257 (Mo. banc 2014)). We "accept[] as true all evidence tending to prove guilt together with all reasonable inferences that support the verdict, and ignore[] all contrary evidence and inferences." Id. (citing State v. Zetina-Torres, 482 S.W.3d 801, 806 (Mo. banc 2016)). We will not, however, "supply missing evidence or grant the State unreasonable, speculative, or forced inferences." Id. (citing State v. Lammers, 479 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2016)).

         DISCUSSION

         Section 575.150.1(1) provides that a person commits the crime of resisting arrest if, "knowing that a law enforcement officer is making an arrest" and "for the purpose of preventing the officer from effecting the arrest, " the person "[r]esists the arrest . . . by using or threatening the use of violence or physical force or by fleeing from such officer[.]" Accordingly, the State must prove: "(1) knowledge that the law enforcement officer is making an arrest; (2) purpose on the part of the defendant to prevent the officer from effecting the arrest; and (3) resisting the arrest by threatening the use of violence or physical force or by fleeing from such officer." Ajak, 2018 WL 1599784, at *3 (citing § 575.150.1).

         The Missouri Supreme Court announced in State v. Ajak that the definition of arrest found in section 544.180 applies to the offense of resisting arrest under section 575.150.1(1). Id. at *3-4. An arrest is thus the "actual restraint of the person of the defendant, or [his] submission to the custody of the officer, under authority of a warrant or otherwise" and not "a continuing process that may still be being 'effected' even after the arrestee is restrained and in the officer's control and custody." § 544.180 (defining arrest); Ajak, 2018 WL 1599784, at *6 (rejecting continuing process definition). "[T]he statute requires only restraint by the officer or submission to the officer's ...


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