By Hongyi Wen
WOODLAND, CA – The judge here in Yolo County Superior Court on Wednesday refused to release a man accused of allegedly getting into a fight in front of a Sherwin-Williams paint store, and striking the victim’s head with a wooden stick.
The defense attorney for defendant Eugene Earl Houseman maintained the victim may have had knives or guns, but police said they never investigated that.
After hitting the alleged victim with a wooden stick, Houseman continued to chase the victim on the street, according to police, and after he was unwilling to comply with orders, the police deployed a K-9 officer and apprehended Houseman.
Houseman already has an extensive criminal record, and now he is being charged with assault likely to produce great bodily injury, threatening a crime with intent to terrorize, and resisting the police officer.
Officer Simon McKenzie testified that he was dispatched on January 19, 2021, at 8:25 p.m. about a fight involving three males around the ages of 40 to 50.
McKenzie said, “As I approached, I saw one male running on the east side, running northbound in the parking lot. And there was another male that was chasing him.
“The chaser, later identified as Eugene Houseman, was on the south side of Sherwin-Williams,” said the officer, who said he witnessed Houseman chasing the victim with a wooden stick in his hand. As the officer arrived on the scene, both had stopped running.
Officer McKenzie described the weapon Houseman used: “He had an about 3-foot-long, similar size to a baseball bat, wooden stick in his hand.”
Although McKenzie did not directly interview the victim, McKenzie claimed the victim was frightened and bleeding from his wound. “He appeared to be scared, he was really worked up. He had blood for the most part, covered all over his face.”
The officer who interviewed the victim summarized the victim’s statement to Officer McKenzie, “Mr. Houseman approached him, claimed that they owed him something. They weren’t sure what he was talking about and then he started attacking with a stick.”
Despite being injured and bleeding, the victim declined to be transported to the hospital. “He was treated at the scene, but declined to be transported,” said McKenzie
When asked by the Deputy District Attorney Matthew De Moura whether Houseman remained when officers arrived, McKenzie said Houseman fled the scene. The police department later located Houseman on the streets around Sherwin-Williams.
He explained that “(the other) officer was in front of me with his K-9 partner, and the officer was having communication with him. We asked Mr. Houseman to stopped, identified ourselves as police, we asked him to get on the ground but he would not comply.”
Officer McKenzie also added that they were in full Woodland police officer uniforms, and driving a Woodland police patrol car.
McKenzie said, “K-9 was deployed, pulled that stick away that Mr. Houseman was holding onto…the K-9 was re-deployed and apprehended Mr. Houseman and he fell to the ground we were able to take control of him.”
DDA Moura questioned what made the officers deploy K-9 officers.
Officer McKenzie maintained the need to deploy a K-9 officer, saying, “The severity of the call, the subject with the baseball-style bat, we had just had assault with deadly weapons, and Mr. Houseman was not complying with our orders.”
Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher asked whether the whole arrest was captured on Officer McKenzie’s body camera, to which McKenzie responded that it was recorded.
Fisher questioned the location of the third individual, since the DDA did not examine any information about the third individual.
Officer McKenzie said, “He was standing to the south, so he would be south or further behind Mr. Houseman. I would say maybe 60 feet behind him.”
Fisher asked whether the third individual was injured, and Officer McKenzie replied, “I don’t recall him saying that.” Officer McKenzie added that other officers spoke to this third individual. “I didn’t really talk to him as a full interview, I just spoke to him briefly while I was on scene.”
When asked about why the victim declined to be transported to the hospital, Officer McKenzie replied that he was unsure.
Fisher pointed out that when other officers arrived at the scene they also saw the third individual with a stick in his hand.
Fisher asked how Officer McKenzie identified at the time whether Houseman or the third individual was the attacker.
McKenzie responded, “At that point, I did not one hundred percent know other than what the preliminary statement told me.”
Officer McKenzie remembered the stick held by the third individual was similar to what Houseman had used. Other officers found more sticks at the scene besides Houseman’s stick.
McKenzie said, “Upon returning back to the scene, there were several other sticks in the general area where I contacted (the victim), and the officers that were investigating the incident at the scene, one of them mentioned that some of those sticks might have been involved.”
About the size of the stick that Houseman used, Officer McKenzie described it as similar to a tree branch.
“It felt similar in size to a baseball bat, but it was obviously not a baseball bat, it looked like the form of a tree branch.”
Lastly, Officer McKenzie described Houseman to be agitated from the fight during the arrest. Houseman, he said, “started making some nonsensical talks about Christmas trees and houses. He did mention that he did not hit anybody with a stick and they had knives and guns.”
Officer McKenzie admitted he did not conduct any follow up investigation to verify whether the victim had knives or guns.
De Moura stated that he will withdraw Count 1 and Count 3 since these are charges related to the third individual, and from Officer McKenzie’s testimony it had shown that the third individual was not injured.
Fisher argued about Count 2, assault likely to produce great bodily injury, noting, “I am not sure whether the evidence rose to the level of Mr. Housemen actually assaulting this individual with a deadly weapon.”
The judge asked about a 10-year-old strike on Houseman’s record that public defender Fisher did not know about. Fisher said, “I do know that right before this he was participating in a mental health court for a little while.”
Houseman revealed during the hearing that he had been in the mental health court for 15 months.
DDA De Moura confirmed that Houseman was originally in a mental health court, and was kicked out because of this incident, explaining, “Mr. Houseman was in mental health court. This was the offense that kicked him out of mental health court, so he is no longer participating in that.
“The rap sheet is quite lengthy, with residential burglary conviction, he has many drug convictions, and theft conviction as well, misdemeanor, domestic violence convictions, multiple parole violations, as well as firearm possession and vandalism…”
Judge Timothy L. Fall asked, “Mr. De Moura could you just tell me the most recent date of conviction?”
De Moura said Houseman is also on a DEJ (deferred entry of judgment) basis for his other case, and the deferred entry date was August 19, 2019.
Judge Fall ruled, “For Counts 2 and 4, that is sufficient evidence for holding order. On Count 2, based on the status of record, that does not lend itself to reduction.”
Judge Fall added, “Frankly, if it were something other than the stick being used on a head and drawing blood, I would be much more inclined to say this is a 255 and it could be reduced even with that type of record. But based on what I have right now, it does not appear appropriate for reduction…
“At this point, Count 2 will remain a felony and Count 4 will go forward as a misdemeanor.” Judge Fall concluded.
PD Fisher asked Houseman to be released on a supervised own recognizance release, or a bail reduction as an alternative.
“Based on the information today, I don’t see a supervised own recognizance release being appropriate,” said the judge, and recommended to present these release requests during the arraignment date with Judge David Reed March 23.
Hongyi Wen is a junior at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Sociology. He is from Guangzhou, China.
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