Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 93-1-03059-9. Date filed: 03/28/94. Judge signing: Hon. Ann Schindler.
Authored by Walter E. Webster. Concurring: William W. Baker, Mary K. Becker
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Webster
WEBSTER, J. -- Wesley Alailima appeals his conviction for third degree assault for hitting a police officer. He argues that the trial court erred in (1) excluding his testimony that the officer's conduct frightened him, (2) excluding evidence of the officer's reputation for violence, (3) refusing his proposed instruction which would have required the jury to find that the police officers were acting lawfully in order to find him guilty, (4) refusing his proposed instruction that a person illegally detained may use reasonable force, and (5) giving the jury an instruction defining assault that did not require that the contact be unlawful. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.
Alailima participated in a march to promote gang unity. Officer Britt, assigned to monitor the march, observed Alailima urinate in public and place stickers on traffic signs, throwing the paper backing on the ground. Some time later, Officer Britt's supervisor instructed him to cite Alailima for littering and urinating in public.
Officer Britt testified as follows: He approached Alailima and informed him that he needed to speak with him about urinating and littering. Alailima yelled obscenities and backed away, so Britt reached his open hand out toward Alailima's arm to keep him from leaving. Alailima punched Britt in the face, inflicting an eye injury. Britt grabbed his shirt and Alailima continued to struggle and hit him. Britt held him in a headlock and tried to pull him to the ground. They continued to wrestle and Alailima kept punching. Another officer pulled Alailima off Britt and Britt sprayed Alailima with mace and handcuffed him.
Alailima testified as follows: Two officers approached him while marching and one grabbed him by the arm. Alailima shrugged off his hold.
Britt then grabbed him with both hands and pushed him backwards. Alailima responded by grabbing Britt and they struggled. Another officer grabbed Alailima's neck from behind, causing him to have trouble breathing, and eventually to lose consciousness. Alailima argued that this was an impermissible chokehold. He conceded that he may have hit Britt inadvertently during the struggle.
At trial, Alailima argued that he acted in self-defense. A jury convicted him of third degree assault under RCW 9A.36.031(1)(g):
(1) A person is guilty of assault in the third degree if he or she
(g) Assaults a law enforcement officer or other employee of a law enforcement agency who was performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault.
Testimony on Alailima's Fear
Alailima attempted to testify that Officer Britt frightened him and that he struggled only to avoid injury. The trial court sustained the prosecutor's objections because the arrestee's subjective fears ...