Bail reduced for man accused of assaulting Steamboat officer
Attorney says Rodney Williams was defending himself in incident
February 16, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The bail for a man accused of assaulting a police officer and trying to take another officer's gun was cut in half to $50,000 Wednesday in Routt County Court.
Rodney Williams III, 23, had a portion of his preliminary hearing Wednesday before Routt County Judge James Garrecht. The hearing, which decides whether the case will move forward to District Court, consisted of testimony from two Steamboat Springs Police Department officers but was continued to 11 a.m. on March 23 because two defense witnesses did not appear to testify.
Police contend that at about 2 a.m. Jan. 20, Williams tried to flee from police in his truck on the west side of Steamboat Springs. Williams then jumped out of the truck and ran. Police caught up with Williams, and police say he resisted arrest.
Routt County public defender Sheryl Uhlmann represented Williams and argued Wednesday that her client was not a flight risk. All his family lives in Colorado, she said.
Fourteenth Judicial District Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said he thought Williams was a flight risk because of the 24-year prison sentence he could get if found guilty of the 13 charges.
Garrecht decided to lower bail after hearing that Williams' mother would bail him out. The judge warned Williams that there would be significant financial implications for Williams' mother if he did not return to court. The bail was reduced at the end of Wednesday's hearing.
The court heard detailed testimony from officers Doug Scherar and Scott Middleton, the two officers involved in the Jan. 20 incident.
The most serious charges Williams faces are related to a scuffle he reportedly got into with police. Scherar testified that Williams sped away during an attempted traffic stop. Williams then ran from his vehicle, and Scherar said he chased him. Scherar pointed his Taser at Williams until Middleton arrived. Scherar testified that when the officers were trying to put Williams in handcuffs, Williams resisted and grabbed Middleton's legs, throwing him off balance. The scuffle then ensued. Scherar testified he tried to use his Taser on Williams six times, but it was not disabling him. Williams at one point tried to grab the Taser, Scherar said. Williams also tried to grab Middleton's sidearm. That is when the officers began punching Williams, but Williams continued resisting arrest, Scherar testified.
After the testimony from the officers, Williams' attorney said there were significant legal issues and questions prosecutors would have to address.
"The reality is this is a man who was getting severely beaten and acting in his own defense," Uhlmann said. "He has a right to defend himself from excessive force."
Prindle countered that a jury would have to decide whether Williams was acting in self-defense.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@SteamboatToday.com