On Friday morning, a Yolo County Jury was unable to reach a verdict on either charge in the case of Elijah Jackson, a Yolo County man who attempted to evade police and whose arrest resulted in the injury of Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Robin Gonzalez.
Mr. Jackson faced felony charges of Penal Code section 69 (resisting with force) and Assault with Great Bodily Injury, but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Reconvening later, Deputy DA Michael Vroman accepted a plea agreement of a lessor charge or misdemeanor resisting arrest and time served.
Previous: Jury Will Decide Whether Police Acted Appropriately During Alleged Resisting Arrest Case
By: Sarah Abfalter
Closing arguments began Wednesday afternoon in the case of Elijah Jackson, 32, a Yolo County man who attempted to evade police and whose arrest resulted in the injury of Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Robin Gonzalez.
While there was no question as to whether Deputy Gonzalez sustained an injury during Jackson’s arrest, the question remains as to whether Deputy Gonzalez’s injury was caused by Jackson resisting arrest, or whether this was the result of law enforcement using excessive force.
Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson pointed out early on in his argument that he hoped this case eliminated any doubt on behalf of the jurors as to “the importance of police dash cams and body cams.”
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman’s lengthy closing argument outlined the events of Jackson’s arrest on the night of August 28. Jackson had attempted to evade police on foot after it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant, but was eventually stopped by CHP Officer John Kitamura, at which point he cooperated with the officer and lay down on his stomach to be handcuffed.
According to trial testimony, one handcuff was improperly placed on Jackson, causing him to yell out in pain. Kitamura was joined by Sergeant Brent Shultz and Deputy Gonzalez, and as Kitamura attempted to adjust the handcuffs on Jackson, Gonzalez attempted to place Jackson in a figure-four leg lock, a martial arts hold designed to demobilize the legs, at which point her finger was fractured.
Despite testimony that Jackson cooperated with Officer Kitamura when being handcuffed, Vroman’s closing argument created a narrative where Jackson willfully resisted arrest, and by doing so, seriously injured Deputy Gonzalez.
When describing Deputy Gonzalez’s use of the figure-four leg lock, Vroman stated that the officer was “taking a quick small step to make sure things went smoothly, not using excessive force.”
But, according to Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson, Gonzalez’s injury was not the result of Jackson’s willful resistance. Instead, Hutchinson argued, Gonzalez was the cause of her own injury, jamming her own finger while “doing a maneuver she had no business doing,” while Jackson was already detained and shouting in pain.
Hutchinson pointed out that, when asked if the figure-four leg lock was common practice by law enforcement, Officer Kitamura said it was not common practice and he had, in fact, never heard of it.
Hutchinson went further, also pointing out that Deputy Gonzalez claimed during her testimony that she never heard Jackson shout that he was in pain, but she changed her narrative when confronted with video evidence.
The question has now been put to the jury to deliberate on whether Gonzalez’s actions were reasonable because Jackson was resisting arrest, or whether she attempted to use excessive force on a person who was already subdued and in pain.
The jury is expected to return a verdict on December 10.