In 2003, Agent Stan Bagley, director of the Central Delta Drug Task Force (“CDDTF”), was working in Hollandale, Mississippi, patrolling various night clubs located in that town. Agent Bagley and two other CDDTF agents had been assisting officers in another county serve search warrants earlier that evening.
After assisting these officers, Bagley decided that he and the other two CDDTF agents would “go through some of the clubs” located in Hollandale before they went home. The agents walked in and out of clubs located on a street referred to as “Blue Front” and then prepared to leave the area.
There was a construction company building located almost directly across the street from one of the “Blue Front” clubs. Bagley noticed a light in this building as he was leaving the area in his truck. Bagley believed this construction building to be vacant and was unaware of anyone residing in the building at that time.
The fact that a light was on in a building he believed to be vacant aroused Bagley’s suspicion; a car parked in front of the building aroused his suspicion further. Bagley was about to run a license plate check on the parked car when he noticed two men approaching his truck.
Bagley rolled his driver’s side window down and asked the two men if he could help them, to which one of the two men stated, “No.” Bagley then exited his vehicle as he did not want to be trapped in his truck. Bagley testified that one of the two men, Gregory Chambers, stepped toward him and struck him in the chest, causing Bagley to stumble back several steps.
He then stepped back toward Chambers with intentions of placing Chambers under arrest, but Chambers struck Bagley again, this time on the left side of his face. The other two CDDTF agents had arrived by this point, and together, the three agents placed the struggling Chambers in handcuffs and under arrest.
Chambers was convicted of resisting arrest and acquitted of simple assault and sentenced to six months in jail. On appeal, he argued his conviction and acquittal are inconsistent in that he was convicted of resisting arrest for a charge (simple assault) where he was found not guilty. MCOA affirmed.
A. Inconsistent verdicts
According to section 97-3-7 of the Mississippi Code, a person is guilty of simple assault upon a law enforcement officer if he attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a law enforcement officer who is acting within the scope of his duty, office or employment .
Resisting arrest occurs when a person obstructs or resists his lawful arrest, by force, violence, threats, or in any other manner. Miss. Code Ann. § 97-9-73 (Rev. 2000).
We find Chambers’ argument to be flawed for two reasons. First, the jury could have found Chambers not guilty of simple assault on a police officer for any number of reasons. The crime of simple assault on a police officer contains additional elements not present in the crime of resisting arrest. Second, if the jury was not convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, of any single element of simple assault, then it was bound to acquit Chambers of the indicted charge.
In Hubbard, this court held that an inconsistent verdict, in and of itself, is insufficient to reverse a criminal conviction. In Hubbard, the evidence demonstrated that more than one officer was involved in an altercation with the defendant, yet the jury found the defendant guilty of aggravated assault on only one officer.
B. Resisting Arrest
To prove that Chambers resisted arrest on the night in question, the State was required to prove that (1) Officer Bagley was attempting a lawful arrest, and (2) Chambers resisted or obstructed his arrest by force, threats, violence, or any other means. See Miss. Code Ann. § 97-9-73 (Rev. 2006).
According to Chambers, this acquittal could have been based on a lack of evidence that (A) Bagley was within the scope of his employment at the time he made the arrest, or (B) that Bagley initiated the confrontation without a lawful justification, and that any physical contact that Chambers made upon Bagley was a consequence of self-defense.
As to whether Bagley was acting within the scope of his employment at the time the arrest was initiated, Bagley testified that after leaving a club on “Blue Front,” he pulled in behind a parked car in order to investigate what he thought were suspicious circumstances. Chambers himself admitted that he knew Bagley was an officer, and he also testified that he saw Bagley earlier in the evening with Hollandale police officers.
On the question of who initiated the physical confrontation, the State asserts that it was Chambers, while Chambers points to Bagley as being the initial aggressor. In addition to his own testimony, Chambers introduced the testimony of three witnesses to corroborate his version of the events, while the prosecution offered the testimony of Agents Bagley, Branning, and McDaniel to support its position.
While we acknowledge that this issue was disputed at trial, it was within the province of the jury to resolve this dispute. Accordingly, it is not for this court to second guess the jury’s resolution of the conflicting testimony, as it is well established that the jury is the judge of the weight and credibility of testimony and is free to accept or reject all or some of the testimony given by each witness.
The State was also required to prove that Chambers resisted or obstructed his arrest by force, threats, violence, or any other means. Agent Branning testified that after Chambers struck Bagley in the chest, Bagley came back forward to place Mr. Chambers under arrest. At that time, Mr. Chambers hit Bagley on the left side of his face with a closed fist.
Branning testified further that Branning tried to detain Chambers to get him in handcuffs but he was putting up a fierce struggle at the time. As discussed above, the jury is the trier of fact, and the testimony of Branning, even if contradicted by all of Chambers’s witnesses, was sufficient to support this element of resisting arrest.