By Danielle Eden Silva
Department 9 held hearings today with the Honorable Sonia Cortés presiding. Among the hearings was the probation violation hearing of defendant Chris Andrew Jackson. On December 23, 2018, Mr. Jackson had been arrested for public intoxication, which was a violation of his Post-Release Community Supervision agreement. Mr. Jackson was represented by Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia and the People were represented by Deputy District Attorney Alvina Tzang.
The arresting officer, Officer Evan Robert Black of the Woodland Police Department, testified on the stand. Officer Black noted that on December 23, 2018, around 7:30 pm, he responded to calls of a disturbance on Cottonwood Drive. He had driven to that area and been flagged by two motorists who directed him toward Elizabeth Way. As he continued east, the officer noticed the defendant in his wheelchair and moving along the sidewalk.
Officer Black, being familiar with Mr. Jackson, pulled the vehicle beside the defendant who stopped to talk with the officer. Mr. Jackson shared he had been heading over to his family member’s place and admitted to drinking alcohol. He also stated that someone had begun to yell at him and, in response, he yelled back. The officer then asked to do a probation search for any illegal items or alcohol, as he was not allowed to possess alcohol as a result of his probation conditions.
Mr. Jackson crawled off of the wheelchair to sit on the sidewalk. While searching, Officer Black discovered that the defendant had urinated himself.
Following this, Mr. Jackson returned to his wheelchair with help from the officer. He was then handcuffed and brought into the police vehicle under the grounds of disorderly conduct by being publicly drunk and unable to care for himself and violating his probation conditions. At the police station, the defendant scored a 0.248% on a portable electronic breath test. The officer would then escort Mr. Jackson to the county jail and then to the hospital, as he needed medical attention.
During his interaction with Mr. Jackson, Officer Black never saw the defendant acting belligerent by yelling or moving through the center of the road. The defendant was compliant throughout the whole interaction and provided a complete breath sample on the first try, while for some it usually takes more than one try. In addition, Mr. Jackson only needed one officer’s help to get back into his wheelchair and no alcohol was found on him.
Following Officer Black’s testimony, the prosecution asked for an amendment to the counts. The amendment would include a second allegation that the defendant had consumed alcohol, which was against his probation conditions. The original allegation stated that the defendant possessed alcohol. The defense objected to the late amendment, claiming the prosecution had prior time to put a new amendment and couldn’t simply add on near the end of the hearing. The prosecution argued that it was not entirely new as the defendant was charged with being under the influence and both allegations fell under that charge. The court ruled in favor of amending the allegations for the charge.
The defense argued that Mr. Jackson hadn’t been in any altercations and had a set destination he was going to on the sidewalk. In addition, he didn’t have any alcohol on him and was compliant when the officer approached him. No premise showed the defendant could not take care of himself or was putting himself in harm’s way. In fact, she argued the defendant was sitting on the ground so that his wheelchair could also be searched was a viable and compliant action. The defense did admit to the defendant’s drinking of alcohol but stated that the time he had already spent should be acceptable enough for the charge.
The prosecution argued that the defendant had been unable to take care of himself and displayed erratic behavior: the defendant had urinated himself and had crawled onto the ground. In addition, the defendant admitted to using alcohol, which is against the terms of his probation. The prosecution argued that 60 days was not an excessive amount of time to request the charge, considering how much time the defendant had already spent in custody.
The court ruled that the first allegation did not have sufficient evidence, as the defendant did not have alcohol or act erratically. However, the defendant was found guilty of the second allegation as he had appeared drunk, openly admitted to consuming alcohol, and had taken a breath test that showed his BAC at 0.248%. The sentence was set to equal the time he had served and he was asked to report to probation.