By Sophie Marconi
On July 19, 2016, at 2 pm in Department 14, the defense and prosecution began their closing arguments for the case of the People vs. Michael George Pedersen. Judge Rosenberg presided over the case, and, after addressing the jury, allowed the defense to begin closing statements.
As the defense presented a closing statement, the deputy public defender emphasized that the basis of the search Officer Jack Hatton, of the West Sacramento Police Department, conducted on the defendant was unwarranted. The defense stated that the defendant had done nothing illegal, and had simply been “bullied” by Officer Hatton without reason. He reminded the jury that Officer Hatton addressed the defendant because he was walking on the sidewalk and then stepped onto the street when the sidewalk ended, as he had no other choice.
The officer drove by and slowed his vehicle and asked the defendant to get back on the sidewalk. The defendant responded by flipping off the officer. The officer proceeded to pull over to the curb, get out of his vehicle, and conduct a “welfare check” on the defendant. When he began patting the defendant down, the defendant jerked away from the officer, got frightened, and ran away towards oncoming traffic. The defense argued that the officer had no right to search the defendant, as he had not committed a crime or given the officer reasonable suspicion.
The deputy public defender addressed the fact that the officer stated that he smelled marijuana on the defendant, and stated that, because there was never a blood test conducted in order to see if the defendant had been under the influence of marijuana, the officer was simply using this as an excuse to stop and search the defendant without a valid reason. He also argued that this so called welfare check that the officer conducted was nothing short of harassment, and the officer was “fishing.”
The defense reminded the jury that it is the People’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime. The defense argued that the defendant was arrested because he stood up for his rights.
The prosecution began its closing argument by stating the several allegations against the defendant. These allegations included resisting, delaying and/or obstructing an officer in the performance or attempted performance of his or her duties, resisting detainment, and running away from a police officer. The primary charge against the defendant was the resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer in the performance or attempted performance of his or her duties, under Penal Code section 148.
The deputy district attorney addressed the use of force in the incident. The witness, arresting Officer Hatton, used force while detaining Mr. Pedersen. The prosecution justified this use of force by stating that, when the officer was investigating the defendant for a crime, the defendant resisted detainment by not allowing the officer to search his person.
The prosecution also stated that the officer had reasonable suspicion to search the defendant because the defendant was wearing baggy clothing. The prosecution stated that the baggy clothing could insinuate that the defendant was carrying a weapon. The prosecutor emphasized that the officer used his best judgment when he decided to use force, justifiable by law.
The prosecution stated that the officer had no other means of action, given the context of the situation. The defendant chose not to comply when the officer detained him, in violation of PC section 148. The prosecution stated that the officer was simply trying to protect the defendant, and drivers who were at risk of hitting the defendant.
On July 20, at approximately 1:30 pm, the jury reached a verdict. Michael George Pedersen was convicted of resisting, delaying, and/or obstructing an officer in the performance or attempted performance of his or her duties. He was put on probation for 12 months and was fined $286.