Tuesday, January 06, 2015

People v. Toure (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 5, 2015)

Here's a heartwarming story from around Christmastime a couple of years ago:

"On December 23, 2012, at approximately 8:30 or 9:00 p.m., Alece Collins was driving in her automobile behind a Penske truck and a tractor-trailer semi-truck westbound on State Route 58 near Highway 395, in San Bernardino County. The tractor trailer swerved several times over the lane division line, into the eastbound lane of travel. Then it continued for approximately two miles in the eastbound lane of oncoming traffic, eventually striking a gray or silver passenger car. Other cars in the eastbound lane swerved and went off the road to avoid the tractor-trailer, which continued westbound in the eastbound lane.

The semi-truck eventually stopped a few thousand feet west of the site of the collision, on the right side of the road, which was on the north side of the westbound lane. The Penske truck pulled in front of the semi-truck and stopped, while Ms. Collins pulled in behind the semi-truck. The driver of the Penske truck called 9-1-1. The defendant exited the semi-truck, mumbling. Ms. Collins and two of the occupants of her vehicle exited her vehicle. Ms. Collins took a BB gun with her, and one of her companions checked the interior of the cab of the semi-truck for other occupants, but found none. One of Ms. Collins’ companions took the keys out of the ignition of the semi-truck so defendant could not drive off again, because defendant had said something like, 'I’m out of here,' and had gotten back into the cab of the truck. The interior of the truck smelled of alcohol so Ms. Collins assumed defendant was intoxicated."

Good for Ms. Collins and her companions.  Pulling out the BB gun was perhaps unnecessary.  But here's a case where taking the law somewhat into one's own hands and blocking a drunk driver from continuing on his course of conduct seems commendable.

What about the drunk driver of the tractor-trailer, you might ask?  He's a sharp contrast to Ms. Collins:

"CHP Officer Chester opened the passenger side door and asked defendant to exit the vehicle, more than once. As soon the door of the truck cab opened, the officer could smell alcohol. Defendant yelled obscenities and the officer had to repeat his request two or three times before defendant started to walk between the dashboard and the passenger’s seat towards the passenger door. Officer Chester grabbed defendant’s arm to assist him out of the truck, fearing that defendant would fall out of the truck if impaired by drinking. 

Defendant was angry and clenched his fists. Officer Chester asked defendant to turn around so he could frisk defendant for weapons, but as defendant turned around, he spun to the left with his left elbow. CHP Officer Williams, Officer Chester’s partner, blocked the blow and applied a bent wrist control hold on defendant. Throughout the process, defendant continued yelling obscenities, and struggled to free his arms from Officer Williams’ control. 

After being handcuffed, the defendant still fought and screamed, yelling obscenities and kicking Officer Williams. At around this time, CHP Officers Camara and Bostrum arrived. Because defendant was now spitting at the officers, Officer Camara put a spit sock over his head. As Officer Camara put the spit sock on defendant, the officer noticed defendant’s eyes were red and watery, his speech was slurred, and the officer could smell alcohol on defendant’s breath. However, field sobriety tests could not be administered due to the state of defendant’s agitation. Defendant continued to struggle, thrash about, and kick the officers, so leg restraints were applied upon the arrival of two deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. . . .

At the Barstow station, Officer Camara admonished the defendant of the implied consent to blood-alcohol testing, but defendant refused, using more profanity. Defendant did not consent, but he was still agitated, and he could not be released from restraints until after a blood draw had been performed (he had been “hogtied” for approximately one to two hours already), so the officers wanted to limit the time defendant was in that position. Because blood alcohol content degrades over time, two hours had already passed, and because he was unsure of the availability of a magistrate who could issue a warrant, Officer Camara consulted with his sergeant, who approved a forced draw. The results of the tests on defendant’s blood showed a 0.15 blood alcohol level."

That'll get you four-plus years in prison.