COA reverses resisting law enforcement convictions based on video evidence

The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned convictions of mistreatment of a law enforcement animal and resisting law enforcement after finding that law enforcement officers’ testimony in the case was in direct contrast to video evidence.

In the case of Royce Love v. State of Indiana, 71A03-1511-CR-2009, a jury in the St. Joseph Superior Court had convicted Royce Love on two counts of mistreatment of a law enforcement animal and one count of resisting law enforcement as class A misdemeanors after he ran a red light, ignored a stop sign and did not stop when he was pursued by South Bend Police Officers Paul Daley and Christopher Deak on Aug. 4, 2013.

Love’s failure to stop led to additional officers joining the pursuit. Those officers attempted to create a rolling roadblock by blocking Love’s van with their police cars, but Love struck the law enforcement vehicles and continued to lead them on a five-minute chase.

The officers were eventually able to stop Love, who was ordered to exit the van. In-vehicle police video shows that Love complied, raised his hands in the air and proceeded to place himself first on all fours, then lying face down on the ground. The video then shows that the officers used Tasers on Love and deployed a police dog on him.

At the subsequent trial, which took place on Aug. 10, 2015, the officers testified that Love did not comply with their demands after he exited his vehicle, saying Love was not listening to their orders and was attempting to walk away, which led to their decision to deploy Tasers and a police dog.
However, Love testified that after being told to “Get the F out of the car,” he exited the vehicle, put his hands up and began to lie face down. Love said the police dog was unnecessarily deployed on him and he was only trying to protect himself from the dog.

After Love appealed his convictions, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that there was insufficient evidence to support those convictions. Specifically, the court said officers’ testimonies that Love was ignoring their orders and trying to walk away were in contrast with the video evidence, which showed Love exiting his vehicle, raising his hands and lying face down on the ground.

“Under the circumstances, we cannot blind ourselves to the videotape evidence simply because the officers’ testimony may, by itself, support the guilty verdicts,” the court wrote in its Thursday opinion.

The Court of Appeals chose to reverse Love’s conviction on the basis of insufficient evidence. However, Judge Pyle dissented, writing that because he was not present at the trial to hear the witness testimony, he does not feel comfortable questioning the jury’s judgment.

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