By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – A “Pitchess” motion heard Wednesday in Superior Court here to impeach police testimony didn’t help defendant Rory Taylor – but his comments, as alleged by the officers in court documents, could be making the accused’s case more difficult.
Taylor has been charged with driving while under the influence and evading police. The former is a misdemeanor, the latter a felony.
But officers claim Taylor said during the arrest that he was a “Republican for life,” that he voted for (President Donald) Trump because of that, and was looking forward to “upcoming civil wars.”
And – this is the unlawful part, if true – Taylor said he wanted to shoot officers with his “AK rifle” and invited officers to a “no-rules” fight where he would “knock us the F*** out.”
Now, that is what the arresting officers said – and maybe that’s why defense counsel wanted to challenge the officers’ veracity via the Pitchess motion Wednesday.
And it’s a reminder that the legal warning oft-seen on television and movies that “what you say can and will be used against you” is becoming a life lesson that Taylor – if he’s truly guilty of saying what’s in the record from the preliminary trial earlier – is going to learn the hard way.
The Sacramento County Public Defender office filed the Pitchess motion to impeach the testimony of Citrus Heights officers who arrested Taylor, alleging officers may have “falsified reports” of those violent threats made against them by Taylor.
Taylor isn’t an angel in the first place. He has several felonies in his record. And on the date of the DUI, he reached speeds of 80 miles-per-hour or more, even passing a patrol car at the high rates of speed, according to the police report.
Many defense lawyers believe a Pitchess motion is a valuable tool. It’s a low threshold to achieve normally, and while judges generally find good cause to peer into the officer’s files, defense lawyers admit it’s exceedingly rare that those same judges rule the evidence of complaints and other wrongdoing in the officer files, such as fabricating evidence, can be used in court.
Under Pitchess, officers are charged with being “untruthful” in their versions of events, the defense claims, and the information in their personnel files could contain “complaints of a similar nature by other citizens (and) would establish a habit or custom on the part of these officers to provide false information and/or testify falsely.”
However, while Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles Wednesday agreed to look into the files of arresting officers, he concluded there was “no relevant” information inside those officers’ files that could impeach their testimony.
Taylor faces a September trial on two misdemeanors related to the DUI, and is also standing trial for felony evading police and threatening a law enforcement officer with violence.