In a ruling released Friday, a state appeals court panel upheld a man’s conviction for trying to kill two Burbank police officers who went to a store to arrest him for shoplifting.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled, however, that the case against Jamie Warren Willard can be sent back to a Pasadena courtroom for re-sentencing in light of a new state law that gives trial courts the discretion to strike certain firearm enhancements during sentencing.
Willard was found guilty in July 2016 of two counts each of attempted murder of a peace officer and assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatic firearm, along with one count each of assault and second-degree commercial burglary, and was sentenced in October 2016 to 81 years to life in state prison.
Willard — who was on bail from a previous shoplifting offense — had tried to flee from the loss prevention office at the Kmart store on July 2, 2010, picking up a nearby fire extinguisher and swinging it at a security guard who was blocking his way, according to the appellate court panel’s 16-page ruling. The responding officers restrained him with two sets of handcuffs chained together behind his back, the justices noted.
Willard was handcuffed with his hands behind his back when he was able to grab one of the officer’s guns and fire upon the two officers, who were both injured, police said soon afterward.
One of the officers underwent multiple surgeries as a result of a gunshot wound to his hand and the other officer was struck in a leg by a bullet fragment, police said.
Willard’s trial attorney, Mark Carrillo, disputed the prosecution’s version of events, saying his client was handcuffed and “absolutely had nothing to do” with the officer’s gun, the Burbank Leader reported.
–City News Service