NEWPORT, Ore. – A video captured the moment a defendant on trial Wednesday in Oregon appeared to lunge for a police officer’s firearm inside the courthouse after a judge denied the sheriff’s office request to use a concealed restraint on him, reported The Oregonian.
Scott Patrick Lemmon, 27, was on trial for the crime of pointing a realistic-gun at two people at a condo in Newport, Ore, and threatening to kill them before robbing them of cash and valuables, according to the report, citing a probable cause affidavit.
In the video, a person identified by authorities as Lemmon, could be seen leaning back and forth in his chair and eyeing the officer to his left. Suddenly, he leaps out of his seat and attempts to grab the officer’s firearm. However, the officer takes evasive action, before court deputies take him to the ground, officials said.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Josh McDowall commended the officer’s quick actions to move out of the away and avert a potential crisis.
“There would have been a shootout in the courthouse,” McDowall told the paper. “I don’t like to think about it. It would have been scary.”
In May of last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of federal public defenders who argued restraints could prejudice a jury against criminal defendants, the paper reported. The court agreed with public defenders again in the second ruling in August of 2017.
A judge denied a request from the sheriff’s office to use an “electronic restraint” on Lemmon that would have been concealed under his pants and not visible to jurors, according to the paper. If Lemmon acted up, officers could have delivered an electric shock to debilitate Lemmon.
Defense attorneys, however, have sharply criticized the use of the shock anklets or similar devices, saying they’re barbaric and can make defendants appear nervous, uneasy and jittery while on trial.
Although McDowall acknowledged the shock probably would not have prevented Lemmon from lunging for the weapon, he told the paper it would have been effective if Lemmon had gained control of the gun.
During Lemmon’s trial, deputies considered him high-risk because he was swiveling in his chair, leaning backward and forward and fidgeting, McDowall said.
“They were catching him paying extra close attention to the officer’s gun,” McDowall said. “He kept looking at it.”
McDowall commended the quick thinking of Newport Police Officer Jon Humphreys for turning away and the Sheriff’s Office employees—Cpl. Giovanni Barbers and Deputy Lisa Mathies—for tackling McDowall and handcuffing him.
The Sheriff’s Office plans to tack on additional charges against Lemmon following the incident, according to the paper.
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