BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and MERCIER, JJ.
Barnes, Presiding Judge.
a bench trial, the trial court found Preston Wayne Dougherty
guilty of two counts of misdemeanor obstruction of a law
enforcement officer based on Dougherty's resistance to
two officers who were attempting to arrest him. Dougherty now
appeals, contending that there was insufficient evidence that
he obstructed the officers while they were acting in the
lawful discharge of their official duties. Upon our review,
in the light most favorable to the verdict, see Bray v.
State, 330 Ga.App. 768, 771 (1) (768 S.E.2d 285) (2015),
the evidence showed that at approximately 8:00 p.m. on March
19, 2016, a patrol officer with the Floyd County Police
Department was turning onto Chulio Road when he was
dispatched to an area of that road where someone was
reportedly attempting to break into vehicles. It was still
light outside when the officer received the call from the 911
dispatcher. As the officer drove by the area of the road
where he had been dispatched, he passed by a man, later
identified as Dougherty, walking down the side of the road.
The officer saw no one else in the area.
officer decided to speak with Dougherty in light of the
reported attempted car break-ins in that area of the road.
The officer turned around his patrol car, activated his blue
lights for safety reasons due to the traffic conditions, and
parked his car on the road. After exiting his patrol car, the
officer approached Dougherty, who continued walking down the
opposite side of the road, and said, "Howdy, hey how are
you doing sir?" According to the officer, Dougherty
acted "completely weird" and "was not making
sense" when the officer approached him and tried to
speak with him, causing the officer to be concerned for his
own and Dougherty's safety while standing on the road.
briefly speaking with and observing Dougherty, the officer
asked Dougherty to take his hands out of his pockets and then
to come over in front of his patrol car away from traffic.
The officer testified that Dougherty took his hands out of
his pockets, but then kept "patting down his pockets[, ]
trying to continue to put his hands back in his
pockets." The officer also testified that Dougherty
would say "okay" in response to the officer's
requests for him to move out of the lane of traffic and come
stand in front of the patrol car, but then would start
walking down the road away from the officer. Dougherty also
insisted that he was "fine, " but then asked the
officer if he could take him home.
initially continuing to walk down the road, Dougherty
followed the officer over to the front of the patrol car and
stood there with his hands out of his pockets. Dougherty told
the officer his name, but when the officer inquired where he
lived, Dougherty responded "right up here" and
could not give an address. The officer asked Dougherty for
identification and tried to continue questioning Dougherty,
but Dougherty was unresponsive to many of his questions,
tried to put his hands back in his pockets, and again tried
to walk away from the officer while saying "okay."
officer had Dougherty lean against the bar on the front of
his patrol car and conducted a pat-down search for weapons,
and Dougherty consented to a search of his pockets. When the
officer searched one of Dougherty's pockets, he felt a
needle. When the officer felt the needle, Dougherty took one
of his hands off of the police car and swung it in the air
while saying "I'm sorry." The officer attempted
to place Dougherty's arm behind his back to handcuff and
arrest him, but Dougherty tried to pull his arm away from the
officer, and a struggle ensued during which the officer
attempted to take Dougherty to the ground and subdue him.
officer repeatedly ordered Dougherty to stop resisting and to
put his hands behind his back so that he could be handcuffed,
but Dougherty did not follow the commands even while saying
"okay" several more times. The officer tried to
physically subdue Dougherty, but Dougherty continued
struggling with the officer and, according to the officer,
did not appear to feel any pain. During the struggle, the
officer's body camera fell off, and Dougherty grabbed it
and held it tightly in his hand.
second patrol officer arrived on the scene and deployed his
taser on Dougherty when he would not stop resisting the
officers, but Dougherty continued to disobey both
officers' commands to put his hands behind his back so
that he could be handcuffed. The officers ultimately were
able to subdue Dougherty and handcuff him, but only after
deploying the taser a second time.
was indicted on two charges of felony obstruction of a law
enforcement officer and one count of battery. Dougherty
elected to be tried in a bench trial, where the patrol
officer who first responded to the scene (the "first
officer") testified to his encounter with Dougherty as
summarized above. The second patrol officer who arrived on
the scene did not testify.
State also introduced into evidence and played for the trial
court an audio-video recording from a camera mounted in the
front of the first officer's patrol car (the
"dash-cam recording"). The first officer's
initial interaction with Dougherty on the road was captured
only on the audio portion of the dash-cam recording, and some
of Dougherty's verbal responses to the officer are
difficult to hear on it. The police encounter with Dougherty
from the point when he stepped in front of the first
officer's patrol car until he was subdued and arrested
was captured on both the video and audio portion of the
the first officer's testimony and the playing of the
dash-cam recording, the State rested. Dougherty elected not
to testify or call any defense witnesses.
hearing the first officer's testimony and reviewing the
dash-cam recording, the trial court acquitted Dougherty of
felony obstruction and battery, but found him guilty of two
counts of the lesser included offense of misdemeanor
obstruction of a law enforcement officer. The trial court
found that when the first officer initially approached
Dougherty on the road, it was a first-tier consensual
encounter for Fourth Amendment purposes, but that the officer
escalated the encounter to a second-tier investigatory
detention "very fast." The trial court further
found that "at that point there was clearly something
wrong with Mr. Dougherty" and that, consequently, the
first officer had reasonable suspicion, and was acting in the
lawful discharge of his official duties, in initially
detaining Dougherty for "at least, if nothing else,
[being] a pedestrian under the influence of something."
According to the trial court, "[a] person that's
walking down Chulio Road in that kind of shape is either
going to get [him]self killed or someone else." The
trial court further found that Dougherty unlawfully resisted