Local News

Ex-Lobbyist Beason Guilty of Simple Assault in Road Dispute Involving Pistol

Posted October 30, 2007

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Don Beason, a former State Capitol lobbyist who was linked to the scandal involving former House Speaker Jim Black, was found guilty Tuesday of simple assault, ending his trial on a more serious charge of assault with a firearm for brandishing a gun during a traffic confrontation July 6.

Wake County Chief District Court Judge Joyce Hamilton ruled in Beason's non-jury trial after a day of testimony. She sentenced Beason to 100 hours of community service and continued judgment for 12 months, which would allow Beason to apply to have the conviction vacated then.

Beason had been charged with assault with a firearm.

In court Tuesday, Jason Batten said he and his fiancee, Chrisy Tellis, were driving to a gas station on Oberlin Road to get some headache medicine when his vehicle was in front of Beason's pickup at a stop light. He said Beason pressed down on the truck's horn for a long period of time.

Batten said that when he walked to Beason's vehicle, Beason pulled out a holstered handgun and held it up toward the passenger-side window for a couple of seconds before laying it on the passenger seat.

Beason testified that Batten grabbed his door handle and shook it and that he thought Batten was going to get into his car. He said he was defending himself.

"I was fearful he would do me bodily harm," Beason said.

Batten said "he was a little fearful" and backed away from the truck with his hands up until the gun was put down on the seat. He later walked behind the truck and wrote down Beason's registration number.

The couple called police as Beason drove off, and they pulled over Beason and cited. Batten said he did not know Beason prior to the incident. Police said Beason had a permit for the handgun.

On cross-examination, Bob Hensley, Beason's attorney, said the arresting officer's report indicated that Beason did not point the gun at Batten. Hensley also raised the point in cross-examination that Batten told WRAL when the story was first reported that "it was blown out of proportion."  Hensley also said Batten told WRAL at the time that the gun was not directly pointed at him.

Hensley said that Beason saw Batten make a "evil gesture" toward him and heard him yell an obsecenity. Batten denied that on the stand.

Wake Assistant District Attorney Matt Godwin argued in a pre-trial motion to allow evidence of another incident where he said Beason "brandished" a gun to another victim in a "show of force." He said the incident did not rise to level of "assault by pointing a gun."

Godwin said that incident was not reported to police, and Beason was not charged.

The former lobbyist came under fire after authorities identified him as the person who provided a $500,000 loan to Black. The loan, which went through Black's campaign account, was uncovered as Black was sentenced on a federal corruption charge that stemmed from illegal cash payments he received from chiropractors.

86 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • mommy2caroline Nov 1, 2007

    Looks like a case of He said/He said. I don't know that I could rely on either party for the whole truth.
    I do think when someone walks up to your vehicle that it puts you in a threatening situation. However, I do not feel comfortable with a gun in my car since I have a young child.

  • ThePunisher Oct 31, 2007

    "one of the basic tenants of self defense is that you do not pull a gun unless you plan on using it."

    Nope, you keep it at the ready in case you need to use it if it comes to that. If you "need to pull it out" it's probably already too late.

  • lizard Oct 31, 2007

    A physical arrest could not have been made because the offense did not occur in the officer's presence. Citation is the way to handle this. Let the judge decide. She did and now I know not to vote for her.

    Anybody that gets out of a car and approaches someone elses' car in this day and age of car jackings probably gets what he deserves. Leave law enforcement to the police. They're equipped for it.

  • bill0 Oct 31, 2007

    From chapter 20 of NC state law - it is illegal "for any person at any time to use a horn otherwise than as a reasonable warning." If you lay on your horn as a display of anger, you are the one legally starting a confrontation in NC. Of course, there are plenty of hotheads out there who will escalate the situation further - which is appears to be what both guys did. The other guy certainly escalated the problem by getting out of his car and going to confront Beason. Beason escalates it further by pulling a gun. Both of them are lucky that nothing worse happened.

    Anyway - one of the basic tenants of self defense is that you do not pull a gun unless you plan on using it. You don't flash it or lay it on your seat to intimidate someone. If the situation is dangerous enough for you to pull a gun, you keep it out and in your control until you can get out of the situation.

  • roadtrash Oct 31, 2007

    In a nutshell, PC means that the crime "probably or is likely to have occured" based on the evidence gathered. In this case, the officer only had the statements by Batten and his companion, the statement by Beason, and the presence of the gun. If Batten had gone to the magistrate to seek a warrant, believe me, it would have been issued (I have dealt with countless cases like this over the last 12 years). Then the officer would be critized for the custodial arrest of Beason via warrant service. The whole case stinks and the officer probably felt the same way about it. But that is why things like this go to court and are presented before a judge (and/or jury). I stand by my opinion that the officer issued a citation to minimize the inconvenience and embarassment of both parties. He saved Batten a trip to the magistrate's office and Beason a trip to jail.

  • Timbo Oct 31, 2007

    Should of took it to a jury, I would of voted innocent.

  • ifcdirector Oct 31, 2007

    "Clearly the officer used discretion when he decided to cite in lieu of a custodial arrest. Charging Beason was based on probable cause. The alleged victim and his witness provided the PC through their statements and account of the event. It was also confirmed that Beason had a gun." This is not a case of littering nor is it a civil case based on a preponderance of evidence. So he is guilty of owning a gun? So am I then. I am sorry but respectfully your argument makes no sense whatever. Let this "victim" of seeing a holstered gun on a car seat go swear out a warrant like anyone else. The officer didn't witness this take place at all did he? There was no discretion used based on what I read just a rush to charge an old man sitting in his own car who found a stranger at his car door trying to either get into it and/or drag him out of it. I doubt he would have come willingly or maybe you can divinate that too? Amazing.

  • amenmike Oct 31, 2007

    Who aggressively leaned on the horn first? Seems to me both were silly, petty little men trying to prove a point and perhaps with anger issues. Seems to be a lot of that going around based on the postings here and everywhere. Well bravery is easy when it is shielded by the annonimity of internet postings. Touchet.

  • roadtrash Oct 31, 2007

    ifcdirector.....Why the tirade about the police? Clearly the officer used discretion when he decided to cite in lieu of a custodial arrest. Charging Beason was based on probable cause. The alleged victim and his witness provided the PC through their statements and account of the event. It was also confirmed that Beason had a gun. The officer made the charge based on the circumstances on hand at the time of the act. It appears that Batten acted like an idiot, but it doesn't sound like his approaching the car was tantamount to an assault. If you're mad about this, contact the DA and the judge....but I don't think slamming the police has merit in this case. Both sides went to court and testified. The judge ruled on the case....not the police officer.

  • Seeminglyopposed Oct 31, 2007

    Why was this man out of his car anyways, he couldn't have meant him any good. He should have driven off and been done with it. He is just whining because he didn't get the chance to beat this man down! No two wrongs don't make a right, but he is lucky some people would have shot him! The next time he will think twice about getting out of his car to be Mister Big. If it would have been a young guy he would have been in the Obit's today.

More...