Judges Reverse Resisting Law Enforcement Conviction, Citing Insufficient Evidence

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Jennifer Nelson for www.theindianalawyer.com

A Fort Wayne woman’s conviction for misdemeanor resisting law enforcement was overturned Thursday by the Indiana Court of Appeals after the judges determined the state didn’t prove she fled from the police officers.

Fort Wayne Police’s Emergency Services Team executed a warrant on Dori West’s home resulting from an investigation into a major drug ring involving the sale of synthetic drugs. West’s 18-year-old son had previously delivered Spice to a confidential informant in front of West’s home.

At the time police entered the home, West’s 2-year-old grandson was in a bedroom asleep; other children were in the home getting ready for school. Police shouted several commands for people to come out of the home as the officers broke through the window into the living room.

An officer saw West look at the them then turn her back and begin going to the bedroom where the boy was sleeping. An officer fired a foam baton at her. Afterward, she left the home and was detained. The officers then removed the 2-year-old and an 11-year-old boy from the home.

The state charged West with Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement by fleeing in November 2014 but didn’t go to trial until March 2017, where she was found guilty.

West, in her appeal, raised several claims, but the Court of Appeals addressed the sufficiency of evidence claim only. Judge Robert Altice noted that in the 20 seconds of chaos during which West is alleged to have fled, there was no evidence West was ordered to stop. The officers instead shouted for everyone to exit.

“Directing West to exit her home was not the same thing as ordering her to stop,” Altice wrote. “[T]here is no evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that West intended to flee, escape, or even unnecessarily prolong her exit from the home.”

West’s conviction was reversed in Dori J. West v. State of Indiana, 02A04-1704-CR-783, and her case remanded with instructions to vacate the conviction and sentence.

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