A bicyclist who pulled a gun on a rookie Fresno police officer and fired a shot during a struggle two years ago was found not guilty Thursday of attempted murder.
The 12 jurors split evenly on whether Patrick Lee Hall, 36, was guilty of assaulting Officer Christopher Reddy with a semiautomatic firearm.
That’s because during four days of deliberations, the Superior Court jury had several questions about whether Reddy and Officer Jordan Wamhoff had used reasonable force on Hall when they confronted him about riding at night without a bicycle light in October 2014 near downtown, defense attorney Scott Baly said.
In the confrontation, the two officers used a stun gun on Hall and struck him with batons before Hall fired one round. Reddy then shot Hall in the abdomen.
Hall smiled and thanked Baly of the Public Defender’s Office and the jury when the verdict was announced Thursday morning in Judge Arlan Harrell’s courtroom. If he had been convicted of attempted murder of a police officer, he would have faced life in prison.
Baly said jurors were unanimous in finding Hall not guilty of the attempted murder of Reddy, but voted 6-6 on the assault charge. The jury of eight women and four men convicted Hall on felony charges of being a felon in possession of a gun and possession of methamphetamine while armed.
Because the jury’s vote on the assault charge was not unanimous, prosecutor Ron Wells can retry Hall on that charge.
If Patrick Lee Hall had been convicted of attempted murder of a police officer, he would have faced life in prison.
Prosecutors consider Hall a career criminal because he has prior robbery convictions.
Baly told the jury that Hall was high on methamphetamine and held a semiautomatic handgun that discharged in a struggle with Reddy while the officer held the barrel of the gun. Reddy was not struck by the bullet but suffered severe powder burns on his hand.
What was in dispute was whether Hall fired his gun intentionally at Reddy or whether the gun discharged accidentally during the struggle.
After the shooting, Hall told police detectives that he wasn’t trying to kill Reddy. In court, he testified: “I ain’t trying to kill no cop.”
Baly said Thursday that Hall was guilty only of running away from police.
“There was no evidence that he punched, scratched, kicked or spit at the officers,” he said. Instead, the evidence showed that Hall suffered a battered face and other injuries.
During deliberations, jurors wrote seven notes to the judge asking for testimony to be read back and clarification of the law. One note asked if officers are trained to punch a suspect in the face while sitting on him in order to subdue him. Harrell told the jury he could not answer that question since police training was not part of evidence.
I ain’t trying to kill no cop.
Patrick Lee Hall
The incident happened around 2 a.m. Oct. 20, 2014, near downtown Fresno.
Baly said Hall was homeless and riding a bicycle near Divisadero Street and Blackstone Avenue when Reddy and Wamhoff tried to pull him over for riding without a bicycle light. Reddy had been on the police force only six months; Wamhoff had 10 months of experience as a patrol officer, Baly said.
Once the officers activated the patrol car’s emergency lights, Hall took off. Reddy, who was driving, testified he hit the bicycle with his patrol car accidentally, stopping Hall near Abby and Effie streets. If he had done it intentionally, Reddy told the jury, it would have been unreasonable force.
Once Hall stopped, the officers used a stun gun on Hall, but it didn’t work, Wells said. Hall then ran to an alley, where one or both officers used a police baton on him, hitting him in the back of the shoulder. When Hall tried to climb a fence, Reddy pulled him down on the ground and began fighting with him.
During the struggle, Wells said, Wamhoff heard Hall say: “I’ve got gun. I’m not going back to prison.” Soon after, Hall’s gun discharged. The gunfire momentarily stunned Reddy.
“He feels a tingling sensation and thinks he’s been shot,” Wells told the jury. Reddy then fired two rounds at Hall, striking him in the abdomen, Wells said.
A wounded Hall ran down the alley and jumped over a fence into the backyard of a home on Effie Street. He took off some clothing, hid his gun, and climbed back over the fence and returned to the alley, Wells said. Soon after, he was arrested by two other officers. Those officers had to use a stun gun to subdue him, Wells said.
With the help of a police dog named Kubo, officers found Hall’s semiautomatic firearm in the backyard of the home on Effie Street, Wells said. Hall was taken to Community Regional Medical Center to be treated for his gunshot wound. Three days later, Hall was booked into the Fresno County Jail, where he remains.