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Watson v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 15, 2014

WATSON
v.
THE STATE

Obstruction of officer. Whitfield Superior Court. Before Judge Boyett.

Michael R. McCarthy, for appellant.

Herbert M. Poston, Jr., District Attorney, Susan L. Franklin, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 123

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

A jury found Everett Thomas Watson guilty of two counts of felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and the trial court denied his motion for a new trial. On appeal, Watson contends that the trial court erred in rejecting his written request to charge the jury on the lesser included offense of misdemeanor obstruction. Watson further contends that the trial court erred in excluding evidence that he had previously been the victim of a home invasion, which he sought to introduce to support his affirmative defense that he used force to defend his habitation. Discerning no error, we affirm.

" Following a criminal conviction, the defendant is no longer presumed innocent, and we view the evidence in the light most favorable to sustain the verdict." Anthony v. State, 317 Ga.App. 807 (732 S.E.2d 845) (2012). So viewed, the evidence showed that Watson lived with his girlfriend in an apartment in Whitfield County. In April 2012, a police detective interviewed Watson and his girlfriend at their apartment regarding their alleged involvement in a drug crime. During the interview, the detective observed numerous weapons near a coffee table in the living room. When the detective questioned Watson, he became verbally aggressive and confrontational, leading the detective to terminate the interview and leave the apartment.

[328 Ga.App. 833] Around 11:00 a.m. on May 4, 2012, the detective returned to the apartment with his partner to serve an arrest warrant on Watson's girlfriend. Both wore plain clothes but had their badges displayed. The detective's partner knocked on the front door, and when Watson approached and asked who was there, the partner gave only his first name. Watson did not open the door, but after a few more minutes passed with continued knocking, his girlfriend came to the door and started to open it, but then attempted to shut it when she saw the detective and his partner standing there. However, the detective and his partner stopped the girlfriend from shutting the door and entered the living room, verbally identified themselves as law enforcement officers, and informed the girlfriend that they had a warrant for her arrest. Watson was standing in the living room and saw the entire interaction.

After the detective showed the girlfriend the arrest warrant, Watson suddenly lunged toward the coffee table and grabbed a can of what was later confirmed to be pepper spray. Because he was focused on the girlfriend at the time, the detective did not see Watson grab the pepper spray, but his partner saw Watson do it and moved to intercept him. The detective's partner and Watson began to fight for control over the can, and the detective immediately joined his partner in the struggle once he realized what was happening. Although the detective ordered Watson to stop struggling and put his hands behind his back, Watson continued to resist and was able to drag the detective and his partner over to a couch. Watson dropped the pepper spray, but then repeatedly attempted to reach for something toward the edge of the couch. The detective and his partner later discovered that a hammer was located at the side of the couch where Watson had been reaching.

As Watson continued to struggle and reach for the hammer, the detective drew his firearm and threatened to shoot Watson if he failed to comply with the detective's orders. At that point, Watson stopped resisting the detective and his partner and stopped reaching for the hammer at the side of the couch. Watson told them, " You guys didn't have to fight me like that... . I wasn't trying to get a weapon. I was trying to get pepper spray."

Watson was arrested and indicted on two counts of felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer. The indictment alleged that on May 4, 2012, Watson had knowingly and wilfully obstructed the detective and his partner, who were acting in the lawful discharge

Page 124

of their official duties, by " offering violence" to their persons " by grabbing a [328 Ga.App. 834] can of pepper spray, raising it toward [them], and reaching ...


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