By Maxwell C. Myrhum
WOODLAND – A Woodland man was found guilty of evading a police officer and resisting a police officer in a high speed chase.
Arnold Parker has been found guilty of felony evading a police officer and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing a police officer. The charges relate to an incident on Nov. 20, 2019, in which Parker led a portion of the Woodland Police Department on a high speed chase on the I-5 freeway, all sparked by a misunderstanding with the motel where he was an occupant, regarding toy airsoft guns.
Prior to the jury’s deliberation and verdict, the jurors heard closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman was the first to address the jury.
Vroman stressed to the jurors that, in the eyes of the law and the State, there is indisputable evidence against the defendant. The evidence weighing against Parker lies in the body camera footage from police officers in pursuit, a speculated ten traffic violations—but only three are confirmed—and blatant reckless driving that caused the defendant to crash.
The prosecution also suggested to the court that the incident in November all occurred due to Parker not wanting to deal with the police, and that his state of mind was set on evading any sort of contact. The defendant went so far as to hide in a blackberry bush to evade the police.
Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson refuted the claim from the prosecution that this incident just occurred “for whatever reason,” and without any motive by his client.
The defense elaborated to the jurors how Parker on that day was conducting simple tasks like laundry, or being in his motel room. The appearance of police was a shock to the client, as he had done
nothing wrong—unless owning airsoft guns is illegal, which it is not.
The shock of multiple police officers surrounding him in the parking lot of his motel alarmed the defendant, and the officers shot a round of a small explosive that created a cloud of smoke around him. This prompted Parker to run for his life from the police in confusion, as he believed that they were in some way out to kill him.
Parker’s innocence lies in the desperation of his escape from the individuals chasing him, which, again, drove him far enough to fear for his life and flee into a blackberry bush on the side of the I-5 freeway.
The prosecution was then allowed a final argument to refute the defense’s attack on his remarks.
Vroman explained to the jury that their job is not to prove why the defendant ran from the officers, for it is evading police nonetheless, but rather to prove that he did indeed commit the crime.
The prosecution also added a theory that the defendant drove past the airport and did not stop, proving his guilt.
The logic behind this argument is that if the defendant was in such desperate need of help or assistance from anyone, while he is being chased by officers allegedly trying to kill him, that Parker would’ve stopped at the airport and sought help from TSA agents or airport police. A public place with cameras, police, and the general public would, as speculated by the prosecutor, have been a very good place to get help, but instead he drove in the opposite direction.
In driving the other direction the defendant proved his guilt to the prosecutor, that he did not want anything to do with law enforcement that day, and chose to keep running from the law.
There is also a suggestion from the prosecutor that the defendant was shot at after he had ignored orders from the police to not enter his car, and that doing so resulted in his being fired upon.
After these closing arguments, the defendant, Arnold Parker, was found guilty on his counts of evading police and obstructing a police officer from executing their job.
A hearing and sentencing for this case has been set for April 1, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. in Department 14.
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