Missing Gun at Scene of DUI Accident Cause for Concern – But Officers Render Firearm Harmless at Hospital

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By Lauren Smith

SACRAMENTO – The discovery of an empty gun holster at the scene of a suspected DUI accident – with the injured driver on the way to the hospital – could have spelled a much more serious situation, according to witness testimony here in Sacramento County Superior Court this week.

Defendant Vincent Stevens – the suspected DUI driver – was held to answer on multiple felony weapon and drug charges after is preliminary hearing here, but it could have been worse, speculated peace officers.

It is alleged that on June 26, 2019, the defendant was driving a Nissan before veering off the road and crashing into two parked cars. It was Officer Nicholas Taylor who testified he responded to a call about a “vehicle collision into two parked vehicles.”

When he arrived on the scene he saw the defendant being treated by medics before he was transported to the hospital.

But Taylor told the court that wasn’t his major concern when officers searched the vehicle and found “a black empty handgun holster, live .357 magnum ammunition, rock cocaine, powder cocaine, and numerous Xanax pills as well as a digital scale.”

He said officers grew “concerned” that the defendant was armed because the handgun holster was empty, there was ammunition in the vehicle, yet no weapon was found.

Officer Taylor and his partner drove to the hospital and located a “black Taurus revolver, which was inside of a green crown royal bag, in [the defendant’s] pants pocket.”

Officer Taylor took the revolved and “rendered it safe,” removing five bullets.

He noted that he saw signs of intoxication of the defendant at the hospital, such as “slow and slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and the inability of Stevens to hold a conversation. He was drifting in and out, he was nodding off which is typical of narcotic intoxication,” yet there was no odor of alcohol, said Taylor.

However, Taylor said he did not perform field sub rites tests because the defendant’s “level of consciousness, he had also been in a vehicle collision, and he was in a hospital gurney the entire time.”

Under cross examination, Assistant Public Defender Quoc-Anh To asked Officer Taylor if it was possible that the injury to Stevens’ head could cause signs of intoxication; however the officer stated he “could not testify on that” because he did not talk to medical personnel at the scene.

Officer Jonathan Magner testified one of the officers who searched the vehicle found a gun holster, four rounds of .357 ammunition, .78 grams of cocaine, and 32.5 pills of Xanax, both “usable amounts.”

Officer Magner further stated that he spoke to a witness as the scene who claimed to have heard the crash, and who stated that she saw “a single male occupant inside the crashed Nissan.” Along with her father and other neighbors, the witness attempted to “extract” the driver from the driver’s seat.

They were successful in moving him from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.

The witness also claimed that she saw someone go through the passenger compartment of the vehicle and “tuck something inside of his waistband,” however it was unclear who this man was.

Officer Magner further testified that he reviewed surveillance footage of the collision and saw “the Nissan…crash into parked cars along the curb line and come to a rest.”

Officer Jake Hensley was one of the first officers to drive on scene and testified that he saw the defendant in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. After learning that there was an empty handgun holster and no weapon found, he responded to the hospital right away because he was “in fear that [the defendant] would enter the hospital with a firearm.”

When he searched Stevens, Officer Hensley located a “loaded .357 revolver in his front pants pocket.”

In his report, Officer Hensley wrote that the defendant appeared “dazed and disoriented from the impact.”

PD To argued that there is not enough to establish that the DUI charge should remain. He stated that due to Officer Hensley’s own police report, the defendant’s behavior and perceived signs of intoxication could be a result of the head injuries sustained in the crash rather than from drugs.

Furthermore, To argued that there was no testimony provided that explains the impact drugs would have on the defendant when driving.

However, Judge Steve White ruled that there is “sufficient cause” to hold Stevens on the multiple felony charges and set his jury trial for May 10.

Lauren Smith is a recent graduate from UC Davis. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology. She is from San Diego, California.

 

 

 

 


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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