A Woodland woman convicted of obstructing two Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies will appeal, using a rarely invoked law that the deputies’ conduct was so outrageous that her case should be thrown out.
Cowlitz District Court Judge David Koss denied Angela Warner’s motion to dismiss her guilty verdict and fined her $540.
A jury on Feb. 12 convicted Warner of obstructing an officer and resisting arrest during a welfare check in 2016. On Aug. 2, 2016, Sgt. Corey Huffine and deputy Alexis Price responded to her husband’s report that Warner was threatening to shoot a smoke alarm with a shotgun, but the series of events that followed found Warner in custody with serious injuries.
Prosecuting attorney Jacob Lervold argued in court that Warner lunged toward Price when she tried to remove some of Warner’s guns from her house. Warner vehemently denied attacking Price and said she helped the deputies find the guns herself.
At some point, Huffine took Warner to the ground when he said it seemed like Warner was reaching for his gun belt. Warner has said the injuries she received that day were “potentially life-threatening,” including fractures to the pelvis and head trauma that required eye surgery. She told The Daily News her medical bills have exceeded $100,000.
Lervold, however, argued that Warner was hostile and aggressive towards the two deputies, and that they were justified in using force to subdue her.
Tuesday, Warner’s public defender Patricia VanRollins said the two deputies’ behavior was “shocking to the conscience” and argued that Warner was acting in self defense against an unlawful arrest.
“When (the) officers left,” VanRollins said, “...Ms. Warner’s body was injured pretty much from head to toe.”
VanRollins is basing her appeal on a rarely-invoked court rule clarified in the 2004 State v. Moore case. It allows a court to dismiss a prosecution on the grounds of arbitrary action or governmental misconduct when the accused’s right to a fair trial has been prejudiced.
This case, VanRollins said, “is an exemplar of governmental misconduct.”
Lervold fired back that the law should not apply “even assuming that the officers engaged in some assaultive behavior.”
Lervold and VanRollins both said in court that using the rule is rarely used, applied only in extreme cases of governmental misconduct.
Judge Koss denied the motion, saying that while it was “extremely sad to see how she’s suffering from the events of that day,” he found Warner’s testimony less reliable than the deputies.’
“It was not a good day for Ms. Warner,” Koss said. “ … It was alarming enough to the father that he had the boys leave and call 911. There’s certainly evidence that she was not at the top of her game that day.”
Koss ultimately sentenced Warner to pay a $540 fine. VanRollins told The Daily News she plans to appeal the decision further.
Warner has not filed any damage claim or suit against the county and the sheriff’s office. Nevertheless, the sheriff’s office has retained John Justice in connection with the case, County Sheriff Mark Nelson said Thursday. He declined further comment. Justice also declined comment, citing the ongoing nature of Warner’s claims.