By Joshua Liang
Woodland – A jury trial to decide if April Lynn Wilson is indeed guilty of battery and assault against an on-duty police officer has concluded.
During the trial the defendant’s attorney asked if Ms. Wilson had exhibited symptoms of mental illness when Sgt. Victoria Danzl responded to reports of a suspicious white female loitering in front of a Woodland convenience store during the evening hours of April 4, 2019. The sergeant replied with a negative. The defendant’s attorney proceeded to question Sgt. Danzl’s earlier statements in which she described Wilson as acting crazy.
“It was just something that crossed my mind,” Sgt. Victoria Danzl remarked.
When asked if she had at any point during the confrontation ever screamed the phrase ”F*** you,” Sgt. Danzl replied no.
The defendant had already visited the liquor store a few hours before the 911 call was made earlier that afternoon. Ms. Wilson had later returned, beleaguered and intoxicated, to purchase more vodka. A verbal confrontation ensued, leading to the intervention of Woodland PD.
The defendant’s attorney asked the police sergeant about the implications of the slur ”c**t.” The officer replied that she had been experiencing a myriad of similar profanities during patrols. The defendant’s attorney asked if the slur had gotten under her skin in this particular situation. Sgt. Danzl replied with a negative.
“We get called c**ts. We get called bitches. That sort of thing.”
Sgt. Danzl then described her initial contact with Ms. Wilson. who had been ranting about Prohibition, to which the sergeant inquired about her fascination with the topic. The defendant’s attorney asked what exactly she had been doing.
“I was trying to deescalate the situation.” Sgt. Danzl explained that, when faced with these scenarios, officers versed in CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training are typically encouraged to engage the suspect in conversation.
“And it never occurred to you that the suspect might be mentally ill?”
There was a pause before the witness’ next “no.” The officer explained that the behavior exhibited by Ms. Wilson was common among alcoholics, in her experience, as they displayed slurred speech and a similar hostile demeanor when confronted by peace officers.
The defense asked if the victim was aware that it was possible to suffer from mental illness while simultaneously engaging in repeated abuse of substances such as alcohol.
“Are you also aware that someone suffering from mental illness may not understand sarcasm?”
Sgt. Danzl was then asked about the officer she had been on duty with during the incident. When asked about Officer Carlos Barrera’s audible laughter upon listening to the defendant’s ramblings upon arriving at the scene, Sgt. Danzl acknowledged that she had not meant to make light of the defendant’s situation, as well as stating her belief that officer Barrera had not meant to either.
During the video, as the defendant’s obscene insults began to escalate, Sgt. Danzl’s body cam captured her finger flicking toward the defendant. The defense attorney asked about the circumstances of that specific movement. Sgt. Danzl replied that her attempts to converse with Ms. Wilson appeared to be failing, as she can be audibly heard labeling the sergeant with the pejorative term “c**t.”
“I was just trying to tell her that you need to leave right now.”
The video depicted a continued escalation of words until the defendant’s attorney paused on a frame showing the sergeant lurching toward Ms. Wilson. Questioning about whether or not that constituted violating the defendant’s personal space, the video resumed, the camera shaking uncontrollably as the defendant was screaming and swinging in all directions, with Sgt. Danzl attempting to gain control of the defendant’s arms.
The defendant’s attorney then proceeded to rewind the clip, focusing on a verbal exchange during the fight.
“Now here you can hear someone say f*** you and then April replying f*** you b***. Who said the first f*** you?”
The sergeant replied that she could not remember, but that it was possible she might have blurted something out during the heat of the exchange.
When the clip resumed both Officer Barrera and Sgt. Danzl’s arms filled the frame as they wrestled handcuffs onto Ms. Wilson. The audio picked up conversation as Sgt. Danzl exclaimed that the suspect just began screaming and acting erratically. The clip paused again.
“Why did you say that she attacked you?”
Sgt. Danzl replied that she did not know.
The witness was later dismissed and informed she was still subject to recall. Officer Barrera was then sworn in and took the stand. Footage from his body cam was then played for the jury as it showed the officer promptly entering the convenience store while Officer Danzl began conversing with the suspect.
Officer Barrera was then asked if the symptoms of alcohol abuse could potentially overlap with that of mental illness, in his experience as a Woodland police officer. Officer Barrera replied yes before stating that there were subtle differences such as obvious urination and vomiting that were commonly associated with alcohol abuse. He was then dismissed.
Upon reconvening, the court allowed both the prosecution and defense to make their closing remarks. The jury was then told they would be sent into deliberation.