Jury decides RIfle Taser case | PostIndependent.com

Jury decides RIfle Taser case

Dennis Webb and John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Jury members deliberated Friday afternoon whether they buy Dominic Pino’s argument that being stunned by a Taser caused him to injure a Rifle police officer, or if he has only himself to blame, as the prosecution argued.But the jury didn’t buy the defense’s case, and delivered guilty verdicts on five of the seven charges against Pino.”I am very pleased with the verdicts,” said Deputy district attorney Amy Fitch. “I think the jury was clear that (Pino) assaulted the officer.”Pino was found guilty on one count of second-degree assault on a peace officer, one count of third-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangerment. Not-guilty verdicts came on one count of second-degree assault and one count of criminal mischief. Sentencing for Pino is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 8:15 a.m.Earlier Friday, Pino’s attorney said in closing arguments that his actions on Jan. 1, 2006, were induced by the shock of being Tased.”Nothing happened to these officers before he was Tased. Everything happened afterward,” defense attorney John Sullivan said during closing arguments in a courtroom presided over by 9th Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch.Fitch said the Tasing was the result of Pino’s actions, not the cause of them.”He had made a decision about how he was going to behave that night and nobody was going to talk him out of it,” Fitch told the jurors.Pino was arrested on charges including second-degree assault on a peace officer, second-degree assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and criminal mischief, after the arrest during the first hours of the new year in 2006. Authorities contend Pino repeatedly pushed a man in a Rifle bar and broke a window there before heading out into the streets with his wife and mother, where Rifle police Sgt. Vaughn Miles later spotted him and tried to arrest him.One of the charges against Pino stems from his having pushed his wife during the altercation, seriously injuring her arm. Sullivan contends Pino had been trying to push his wife behind him to protect her when he spotted a man he couldn’t identify in front of him – a man who turned out to be Miles.assault: A2Pino’s mother, Consuelo Pino, also kicked an officer in the groin during the incident, and pleaded guilty to felony menacing. She was sentenced in February to 90 days of home detention and 80 hours of public service.Sullivan said Pino simply was trying to go home that night, and it was too dark for him to see that Miles was a cop rather than possibly the man he had been arguing with in the bar. He cited trial testimony indicating that being Tased can cause involuntary muscle reactions, a mental fog and kicking of feet – all of which he said explains how Pino lashed out like a “wild animal” against the officers who were trying to arrest him.”You heard what he sounded like on the tape. They made him the wild animal by doing that,” Sullivan told jurors.Then he had Pino, who was seated at the defense table, flip a switch and replay a tape of his arrest. Sullivan said Pino was stunned by Tasers as many as 14 times during that arrest.Several jurors leaned forward to listen to the sounds of one or more officers saying “You want the Taser again?” and “Shut up and quit moving,” as Pino repeatedly cursed, cried out “aaah” in pain and asked the officers who they were. Pino wiped his eyes with a tissue as the tape concluded.”They made a mistake in this case,” Sullivan said of the officers. “They made a bad one and it was a little bit of cowboyism on the part of these officers. … You’ve got a potentially lethal weapon and these guys don’t even know how to use it.”In her final comments to the jury, Fitch responded, “Cowboyism? Give me a break. Vaughn Miles has been a police officer for 29 years; he has never fired his gun at anyone.”She said Miles also never had used a Taser to arrest someone before, and had backed up 130 feet as Pino advanced on him, trying to use lesser means of subduing Pino before resorting to the Taser.”Yeah, he’s a real cowboy, he’s a loose cannon, isn’t he?” she said.She also challenged the notion that Pino couldn’t tell Miles was a policeman, saying it would have been hard to miss the shine of his badge.”I’m sure that Tasing wasn’t fun. I have no doubt it wasn’t, but it’s not why he acted the way he did,” she said.Fitch told jurors that Pino didn’t cry during testimony about his mother being arrested, or about his wife or Miles being injured.”He has tears only for himself, he doesn’t care about anybody else and he didn’t care about them that night,” she said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119|dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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