By Danielle Eden C. Silva
A trial against a man facing several charges for driving while intoxicated opened with the defense agreeing on all charges except the evasion of an officer.
On December 27, 2018, Arthur Fernando Samoro had been going 95 mph on southbound Interstate 5. Officer Michael Simpson and his fellow Woodland California Highway Patrol officer had been patrolling in a marked police vehicle when Mr. Samoro passed them. They turned on lights and sirens, but Mr. Samoro did not stop for the lights. The ride led to a 10-minute car chase where they requested back-up. Mr. Samoro would be apprehended in his Woodland home and then taken to the police station. His charges include driving under the influence, possession of paraphernalia used for controlled substances, and breaking various traffic laws including running stop signs, driving off the road, and exceeding the speed limit, as well as evading an officer.
Of these charges, the defense only disagreed on the charge of evading an officer. As a result, they plead not guilty to all charges. The defendant knew that the officers were behind him and were potentially going to arrest him. In his mind, however, he wanted to get his grandmother’s car, the vehicle he was driving, to his home as soon as possible so the car would not get towed. The defense argued Mr. Samoro wasn’t trying to evade the officers and knew he could be arrested, but wanted to prevent the costs that would come from the car being impounded or trying to get the car back. The car would still be towed despite reaching his home, but the defense pointed out that the route taken was not to evade or escape the officers but rather the fastest way for the defendant to bring the car to his home.
In regard to the other charges, the defendant openly admits to driving under the influence, having a methamphetamine pipe, and breaking traffic laws. The prosecution’s opening statement also backed this up, stating the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Content had been 0.14% and a sweatshirt from inside of the vehicle had a meth pipe inside of it.
These main pieces of evidence were shared by Officer Simpson as he testified on the stand. He had been part of the initial pursuit, referencing his dashboard camera footage of the car chase and his body camera footage from interviewing the defendant at the station.
In the car chase scene, the defendant’s vehicle is seen speeding at 95 mph and passing several cars. While the officers pursued him, Mr. Samoro drove past two stop signs, sped up and forced the officer’s vehicle near 120 mph, drove off the road onto a dirt shoulder and back on the road, and failed to signal as he passed other cars. As the vehicle approached the house, however, the speed decreased and the defendant signaled his turns. He parked in front of the house, stepped outside of the vehicle with his hands raised at police command, and then ran toward the garage. Mr. Samoro would be taken down by a trained police dog and two other officers who handcuffed him and brought him to the station.
In the Officer Simpson’s body camera footage, the defendant underwent a breathalyzer test for his 0.14% results, but Samoro also makes heavy note of how he was trying to get the car home so it would not be towed. Mr. Samoro also admitted to owning the sweatshirt with the meth pipe inside of it and having drunken alcohol earlier in the day. During this footage, the defendant is revealed to have been bitten by the police dog and only underwent the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus sobriety test – a test where an individual has their gaze follow the officer’s finger from side to side without moving their head. This test does not require the person being tested to stand like other sobriety tests. The officer noted the defendant was treated for the dog bites later.
The trial is expected to resume in the afternoon with the continued testimony of Officer Michael Simpson.