Deputy guilty of brandishing
March 6, 2006
A Douglas County sheriff’s deputy was found guilty Friday of brandishing a weapon at a Rocklin, Calif., couple on a motorcycle in Carson City while he was off duty.
Deputy Adam Spoon is on administrative leave pending disciplinary action, according to Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini. Pierini said Friday that Spoon would be suspended or terminated after a decision is made on his fate next week.
“He’s been convicted of a misdemeanor,” Pierini said. “We have to determine if that conviction will be detrimental to our accomplishing our mission.”
Spoon was convicted in a trial presided over by visiting Judge Steve McMorris.
McMorris, who served as Tahoe Township Justice of the Peace and Douglas County district attorney, said the case was the hardest he’s had to rule on in his 30 years. “Both the antagonists in this case didn’t use the best sense,” McMorris said. “Deputy Spoon should never have drawn his weapon. I find the state has met all the elements of this case and I sadly find Deputy Spoon guilty.”
Spoon’s attorney, Gene Drakulich, told McMorris that the deputy would probably lose his job due to the conviction.
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McMorris agreed, sentencing Spoon to neither a fine nor community service.
The case hinged on whether Spoon, 29, was in fear for his life during the confrontation that occurred Sept. 24 at Carson and William streets and was justified in drawing his weapon.
Spoon testified that he was northbound on Highway 395 following a truck that was, in his opinion, tailgating a motorcycle being ridden by Sean and Julie Bowers.
Spoon said the truck pulled off a few blocks from the scene of the incident and that he was talking on the phone when he pulled into the center lane to turn left on William Street.
He testified that he heard Bowers yelling and saw him pointing at his vehicle and that he backed up and rolled down the window to hear what Bowers had to say. “I ride bikes,” Spoon said. “I wanted to talk to the guy. I believed he probably thought I was the one tailgating him. I wanted him to know I wasn’t.”
Testimony from all four prosecution witnesses agreed that Spoon was in the turn lane and backed up to where the Bowerses were sitting on a borrowed motorcycle.
Spoon said he tried to tell Bowers that he wasn’t the one who was tailgating him. Bowers said he told Spoon he should be careful because someone could get shot. Spoon said he believed Bowers was threatening to shoot him. He testified that Bowers put the kickstand down on the motorcycle and let go of the handlebars and that was when he drew his weapon.
“I said people could get shot,” Bowers testified. “Then I turned forward and my wife started pulling on me to get out of there and said he had a gun. He said he was a police officer and he pulled a gun and said he was going to shoot me, shoot me, shoot me.”
The couple testified Julie Bowers got off the motorcycle and was pulling on Sean.
Witness John Dietz testified that Sean Bowers never got off the motorcycle during the incident. Dietz said he was waiting at the red light behind Bowers and his wife when he saw Bowers yelling at a pickup truck in the turn lane.
Carson City deputy Sam Hatley testified that Spoon brought him a typed statement on the day after the incident. Hatley said the statement claimed Bowers got off the motorcycle and went up to Spoon’s vehicle window. When Spoon was told there was a witness who said Bowers never got off the motorcycle, he altered his statement.
Julie Bowers hired Carson City attorney Day Williams to represent them in the case. She testified that she may seek civil damages from Spoon.
“We feel justice was done, and it goes to show that police officers have to obey the law, too,” Williams said. “It seems that the judge did not impose any penalty on Spoon as he would an ordinary citizen based on Spoon’s lawyer’s representation that Spoon would lose his job if convicted. I would hope the Douglas County sheriff would take that seriously.”