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Sufficient evidence that officer was assaulted

Where appellant scuffled with the police officer attempting to arrest him for shoplifting, there was sufficient evidence that he intended to strike or harm the police officer. His conviction of assault and battery of a police officer is affirmed.

Intent to harm

“When Officer Pickeral attempted to arrest Ewell, Ewell ‘became combative’ and ‘tried to escape.’ After Officer Pickeral blocked Ewell’s escape from the room, Ewell swung his ‘hands back and forth,’ striking Officer Pickeral’s chest, side, and shoulder.

“Ewell then ‘grabb[ed]’ Officer Pickeral and tried to push past him. During the ensuing, nearly minute-long struggle, Ewell told Officer Pickeral to ‘get off’ of him, pushed Officer Pickeral, and wrestled him to the floor.

“The struggle with Ewell caused a ‘small tear’ in Officer Pickeral’s rotator cuff. …

“Although Ewell denied that he intended to strike or harm Officer Pickeral, it is well-established that a fact finder ‘is entitled to disbelieve the self-serving testimony of the accused and to conclude that [he] is lying to conceal his guilt …. Moreover, a ‘fact finder may infer that a person intends the immediate, direct, and necessary consequences of his voluntary acts.’ …

“Here, the trial court weighed Ewell’s testimony against the evidence as a whole, including video evidence of Ewell’s physical actions, testimony about his demeanor and attitude, and evidence of injury to Officer Pickeral, and found that Ewell intended to assault Officer Pickeral as he attempted to escape the room.

“That factual conclusion is neither plainly wrong nor without evidentiary support, so we will not disturb it on appeal. Thus, the Commonwealth’s evidence was competent, not inherently incredible, and sufficient to sustain Ewell’s conviction for assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.”


Ewell v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1185-21-3, Nov. 9, 2022. CAV (Fulton III) From the Circuit Court of the City of Danville (Reynolds). Jason S. Eisner for appellant. Mason D. Williams, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-505, 7 pp.

VLW 022-7-505

Virginia Lawyers Weekly