No Verdict Reached in Assault Case Against Former Deputy
Posted April 4, 2007 12:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2007 6:49 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A jury on Wednesday deliberated for about four hours without reaching a verdict in an assault case against a former Wake County deputy.
Christopher Roth is the first of three former deputies to be tried on an assault charge stemming from an altercation last August outside an Applebee's restaurant on U.S. Highway 70 in Garner.
Robert Wise said three undercover officers cursed and beat him in front of his wife and daughter because they were upset that he had taken up two parking spaces outside the restaurant.
Two weeks after the alleged incident, Roth and deputies Katie Broda and Kevin Hinton resigned from the Wake County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Donnie Harrison has since apologized for his deputies' actions.
During their deliberations, jurors asked to listen to a 911 call made by Wise's wife during the incident. They are expected to continue considering a verdict on Thursday.
Roth testified Tuesday that he didn't do anything wrong. He said he felt it was his duty to investigate why Wise was occupying two parking spaces.
Broda testified that Wise acted aggressively toward the deputies.
Wise, his wife and daughter testified that the deputies came running up to their vehicle without identifying themselves, yanked Wise out of the driver's seat and hit him and used pepper spray. Wise's daughter said she also was pepper sprayed during the incident.
"What is it about Mr. Wise that upset Deputy Roth so much?" Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby asked jurors during his closing argument Wednesday morning. "Was the situation so acute that you had to drag Mr. Wise out of the car and go through what he went through in order to control the situation?"
Defense attorney Hart Miles told jurors in his closing argument that a series of quick decisions snowballed into the altercation that never should have happened. But he said Roth based his actions on his experience and his actions were justified.
"The double parking is what initially drew the attention of the officers ... Mr. Wise's behavior out of that (vehicle) window is what made them approach," Miles said. "Real life, on the street, when you're an officer, happens very quickly, and you have to make quick decisions."
Roth and the other deputies didn't know if Wise had drugs or weapons on him, so they took the necessary action to gain control of the situation, Miles said.
Willoughby said the case comes down to whether Roth had reason to get into an altercation with Wise.
"The question is ... was there justification for what Chris Roth did or not. If there was justification for it, then he's not guilty. If there wasn't, then he's guilty of (assault)," he said.