Assigned on Briefs November 4, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-01847 Chris Craft, Judge
Brett B. Stein, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cecilia Williams.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alexa Crump, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Alan E. Glenn, J., joined.
ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
This case arises from an attempt made by Memphis police officers to arrest the Defendant, who was a suspect in a December 2011 robbery. In April 2012, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Cecilia Williams ("the Defendant") for three counts of assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and one count of resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor.Following a trial conducted August 5-8, 2013, a jury found the Defendant guilty on all four counts listed in the indictment. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve six months in jail, followed by 11 months and 29 days supervised probation. The Defendant filed a timely motion for new trial, which the trial court denied after a hearing. This timely appeal followed.
On December 2, 2011, several officers with the Memphis Police Department responded to A1-Express, a local gas station and convenience store, to speak with the store's owner, Andrew Hodge. Two days prior, Mr. Hodge had reported that the Defendant, who was a former employee, and several accomplices had committed a robbery at the location. The officers hoped to obtain additional information from Mr. Hodge about the Defendant's home address so that they could arrest the Defendant for the robbery.
Officer Derek Gary testified that, when he arrived at the store, the Defendant was in the parking lot. After Mr. Hodge identified the Defendant, Officer Gary told the Defendant that she was under arrest and asked her several times to turn around and put her hands behind her back. The Defendant became irate, stating that Mr. Hodge owed her money and refusing to obey Officer Gary's commands. Officer Gary testified that he and other officers had to force the Defendant's arms and hands behind her back to handcuff her. As he escorted the Defendant to a patrol car, she attempted to kick Officer Gary several times. The Defendant also tried to grab Officer Gary's stomach, belt, and groin. Once they got to the patrol car, the Defendant refused to sit down. Regarding what happened next, Officer Gary stated:
We're trying to get her into the car and she turned and just out of nowhere just spit in my face and it was so much spit that not only did it hit my face and go across my face and my glasses and my nose, but it went on my partners as well.
Officer Gary testified that he was concerned and worried when the Defendant's spit landed in his eyes and mouth because of the potential that he could contract a disease from the Defendant's spit. After spitting on the officers, the Defendant continued to "thrash and kick around, " and Officer Gary had to hold her until other officers could get a leg restraint device to keep the Defendant from kicking the inside of the car.
Once the Defendant was restrained inside the patrol car, Officer Gary called his supervisor to the scene and contacted the police department's health and safety office. Officer Gary explained that, any time there is an incident in which an officer is possibly exposed to a communicable infectious disease, the health and safety office makes arrangements for testing for communicable diseases. Officer Gary and his partners were instructed to take the Defendant to the hospital to be tested for hepatitis; once at the hospital, however, the Defendant refused to submit to the test.
Officer Gary testified that he and the other officers who took the Defendant into custody were in uniform and it was obvious they were police officers. He testified that officers did nothing to hurt the Defendant, she did not suffer any ...