San Bernardino Deputy Acquitted of All Charges Against Tow Truck Driver

Nov 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: National News

A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy was cleared Monday, Nov. 1, of all charges from his alleged assault on a tow truck driver, according to a news report.

Richard Heverly, 43, of La Verne, was acquitted of charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault by a public officer, making criminal threats and false imprisonment during his second trial.

The prosecution alleged that Heverly, while off-duty, put a gun in tow truck driver Roger Gilstrap’s ear on Aug. 10, 2008, when he became angry at Gilstrap for blocking the right lane of traffic on Interstate 10 with his tow truck because a big rig was on fire. Gilstrap, who was on the phone with the California Highway Patrol dispatcher, ignored the orders to move the truck, prompting Heverly to go to his truck, grab his pistol and threaten the driver. When emergency vehicles arrived, Heverly allegedly backed off.

His first trial in April ended with a deadlocked jury, the report states.

A juror on the original panel was removed and replaced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge James Hawkins, because she would not participate in deliberations, leaving the panel deadlocked 11-1. Deputy District Attorney Amity Armes asked the judge to replace the juror because she wasn’t following or comprehending court instructions, and, according to the report, a note sent by another panelist indicated she had some kind of medical or mental issues.

Heverly’s attorney Michael Schwartz, however, put up a fight, contending that the prosecution wanted her removed because she was likely to vote non-guilty, earning Heverly his acquittal, the report states. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge replaced juror number two with an alternate, and the new panel began its work anew, as is procedure. After another hour, the jury delivered the not guilty verdict.

Heverly has continued working for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department since his arrest. Schwartz said the department looked into the allegations and allowed him to keep working. Heverly could have faced up to 19 years in prison if convicted.