[W]e conclude that the evidence presented was sufficient to allow a rational jury to find all of the elements of resisting arrest proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Jones
2022 – Ohio – 2122
Ninth District Appellate Court
June 22, 2022
On an unreported date and time, police were called to the Giant Eagle for a reported theft involving two individuals.
The loss prevention officer (“D.P.”) was working as Giant Eagle’s undercover loss prevention officer that day. She testified at trial that she observed a woman placing store items in her purse and pockets without paying for them. The woman was accompanied by a male, later identified as Mr. Terrell “Big Boy” Jones, but D.P. testified that she did not see Mr. Jones personally concealing any store items. The woman was brought to the manager’s office for questioning, and Mr. Jones followed. The police were notified that two individuals were suspected of shoplifting. D.P. testified that Mr. Jones remained in the general area of the office doorway and was “[J]ust argumentative about everything.” According to D.P., Mr. Jones was not cooperative, and instead began recording her with his cell phone, asking a lot of questions, and arguing. Surveillance footage from the store appears to corroborate D.P.’s testimony. It shows Mr. Jones leaning on the office door while looking inside of the office for much of the 13-minute questioning of his companion inside. The video shows Mr. Jones sometimes using his cell phone, but also gesticulating and verbally engaging in the office conversation at times.
Summit County Deputy Steve Norris testified that he was the first to arrive at the store in response to a reported theft involving two individuals. He testified that theft is an arrestable offense. According to the deputy, he observed both Mr. Jones and his companion inside of the manager’s office when he arrived. The deputy’s body cam footage shows Mr. Jones standing just inside of the doorway, but he backs out of the office upon noticing the deputy approaching him. The deputy points into the office and twice asks Mr. Jones, “Are you involved with this?” Mr. Jones responds both times, “Involved with what?” The deputy testified that, based on his 23-years of experience in law enforcement, individuals who respond in this manner are trying to hide something. He testified that it was his reasonable understanding that Mr. Jones knew exactly what he was referring to because both suspects were in the office when he arrived. The surveillance footage also shows that after asking Mr. Jones if he was involved the deputy looks over to D.P., who is standing nearby and appears to nod affirmatively to the deputy. The deputy also testified that, while investigating the theft, he asked Mr. Jones for his identification more than once, but Mr. Jones failed to identify himself. See Failure to Identify § O.R.C. 2921.29(A)(1) (proscribing the refusal to disclose one’s name, address, or date of birth, when requested by a law enforcement officer who reasonably suspects the person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a criminal offense). Under these circumstances, we conclude that a rational jury could have found that Deputy Norris had a reasonable basis to believe Mr. Jones failed to identify himself and was also one of the two individuals involved in the reported theft.
Multiple sheriff’s deputies testified at trial as to Mr. Jones’ behavior throughout the entire ordeal. Deputy Norris testified that Mr. Jones struck him with his shoulder when he was initially handcuffed and ordered down to the ground. He also testified that Mr. Jones was uncooperative, noncompliant, failed to follow simple instructions, and refused to stand up, claiming both back and ankle problems. Deputy Norris further testified that once the deputies stood Mr. Jones up onto his feet he “collapse[d] back down on the ground” and “became deadweight”, which required them to “grab him [and] hold him so he didn’t hit the ground hard.”.
Deputy Monica Wilkinson was second to arrive on scene and testified that Mr. Jones was yelling, arguing, and “being kind of disorderly.” She testified that Mr. Jones would not cooperate and would not stand up, despite offers of assistance from the deputies to help him.
Detective Byron Cadwell also responded to the store. He testified that Mr. Jones was sitting on the ground, would not stand up, and would not follow any directions. According to Deputy Cadwell, Mr. Jones was defiant and refused to do anything asked of him, such as standing up and walking out of the store. He characterized Mr. Jones’ behavior as “resisting arrest,” and testified: “I believe he was a more passive resister, just not offering any help. He wasn’t pulling away or pushing us or anything, just he was basically dropping his weight, making it almost impossible for us to pick him up or move him.” The deputy testified that Mr. Jones accused the deputies of being racist and was using expletives toward them. Being a co-conspirator to theft was not expressed. Mr. Jones complained of back and ankle problems, yet Deputy Cadwell testified that Mr. Jones joked and laughed at one point, not appearing to be in any pain, and said, “I’m a big boy” as deputies struggled to carry him out of the store. The fact that he was being carried out of the store conflicted with his analysis that he was a “big boy”. A wheelchair was soon brought for Mr. Jones, and the deputies tried to help him into it, but Deputy Cadwell testified that Mr. Jones remained uncooperative, and their attempts to help him into it were futile. The deputy testified that Mr. Jones later stood up and walked out of the store with no further complaints about his back or ankle.
The body cam footage reveals that once Mr. Jones is handcuffed and told to sit down, he becomes exceedingly recalcitrant and refuses to follow any instructions, claiming that injuries to both his back and his ankle are preventing him from being able to stand up and walk. The video reveals that when told to sit on the floor, Mr. Jones only squats near the floor. When told to stand up, Mr. Jones immediately chooses to sit on the floor instead. In the surveillance footage, three deputies are seen lifting him into a standing position. Mr. Jones takes only a step or two before collapsing and becoming deadweight. In the body cam footage, two of the deputies struggle to carry him through the store and have to stop for a moment. Mr. Jones laughs and says, “Yeah, I’m a big boy. I’m a big boy.” When the deputies try to help him into a wheelchair, they are unable to do so, as Mr. Jones yells and taunts them with statements like, “Why you winded?”; and “You good, man? Come on, man, grab a hand. It’s your, it’s your, it’s your bait. It’s your catch.” If this was an NFL game, it’s titled Taunting. At various times, Mr. Jones swears at the deputies and accuses them of racism. When two more deputies arrive, the four deputies are still unable to get Mr. Jones into the wheelchair. They then have to carry him further through the store. Once near the store’s exit, Mr. Jones seemingly permits one deputy to help him to his feet, at which time he walks out of the store without further complaint. By that time, 13 minutes had elapsed since Mr. Jones was initially handcuffed and ordered to sit down.
Mr. Jones was charged with theft and resisting arrest. The trial court granted Mr. Jones’ Crim.R. 29 motion with respect to the theft charge and dismissed that count. A jury then found him guilty of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor of the second degree, and found that he did not prove his affirmative defense of excessive force by the police. The court sentenced him to 90 days in jail, with overflow permitted to the Community Alternative Sentencing Center (“CASC”), and ordered him to pay a $500.00 fine.
We conclude that the evidence presented, if believed, was sufficient to show that Mr. Jones’ actions delayed his arrest, as it required two to four deputies to forcefully carry him through the store after he went limp. See State v. Thomas, 9th Dist. Wayne No. 2910, 1995 WL 39402, *2 (Feb. 1, 1995) (“[C]onduct which delays an arrest procedure, or requires the use of additional force in an arrest procedure, may constitute resisting arrest.”).
A wealth of evidence was introduced that showed Mr. Jones refusing to follow instructions, refusing to stand up, becoming deadweight to force deputies to carry him, repeatedly frustrating their attempts to help him into a wheelchair, and being completely uncooperative during his lawful arrest, which we conclude was sufficient to allow a rational jury to find that he recklessly resisted or interfered with that arrest. See Ohio Jury Instructions, CR Section 521.33 (Rev. May 22, 2021) (defining “resist or interfere” as to oppose, obstruct, hinder, impede, interrupt, or prevent an arrest by a law enforcement officer by the use of force or recklessly by any means, such as going limp, or any other passive or indirect conduct.); 1973 Legislative Service Commission comment to R.C. 2921.33 (stating resisting arrest may be committed through the use of force, or recklessly by any means, such as going limp).
Accordingly, when viewing the State’s evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, we conclude that the evidence presented was sufficient to allow a rational jury to find all of the elements of resisting arrest proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See § O.R.C. 2921.33(A).
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Jones, 2022 – Ohio – 2122.
This case was issued by the Ninth District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Lorain, Medina, Summit and Wayne.
- The central question in this case is that once a suspect is arrested and handcuffed can the suspect commit the act of Resisting Arrest? This court has determined that a suspect can be successfully charged and convicted of Resisting Arrest. The key factors in this case was that Mr. Jones, a.k.a “Big Boy” went limp, refused to stand up and had to be carried out of the store.
- The Ninth District Appellate Court reviewed an older case that is was central to Mr. Jones conviction; State v. Darrah, 64 Ohio St.2d 22, 26 (1980). “An arrest occurs when the following four requisite elements are involved: (1) An intent to arrest, (2) under a real or pretended authority, (3) accompanied by an actual or constructive seizure or detention of the person, and (4) which is so understood by the person arrested.”. The key to this case was that the actions of both the Loss Prevention Officer, and the deputies, provided enough factors that Mr. Jones’ understood he was under arrest. Though not stated in the case, law enforcement must always say “You are under arrest.”, to assure that the fourth prong of Darrah is met – which is so understood by the person arrested. Do not leave any ambiguity for defense counsel or the court to question the suspect’s understanding that he was under arrest. I have personally reviewed this element in many classes presented in 2022.
- The surveillance footage and body camera footage were instrumental to demonstrate Mr. Jones’ toddler – like behavior. Prior to body cameras describing this type of behavior, no matter how well the officer would describe it, would not rise to the level of accuracy that the video reveals.
- The loss prevention officer and most especially the deputies, should be commended for the professionalism each exhibited in the face of ridiculous behavior.
Don’t fail your training.
Don’t let your training fail you!
Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!