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Court reverses gun possession conviction

Fri., April 17, 2009

Assault count upheld against man shot by officer

The assault conviction of an armed man shot in the face by Spokane police during a May 1, 2007, shootout has been upheld by the state Appeals Court.

But the court, in a ruling issued Thursday, reversed on technical grounds a conviction on a companion charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm.

The confrontation began when Officer Todd W. Brownlee responded to a call of a stranger sleeping on the porch at 1739 E. Wabash Ave. The stranger turned out to be Ryan L. Patterson, 28, who had a gun and two knives in his pockets.

According to police reports, Brownlee attempted to awaken Patterson, who started yelling at the officer. After Brownlee unsuccessfully tried to shoot Patterson with his Taser, Patterson pulled a gun, the reports said. The officer told investigators that he heard a pop, pulled his own gun and returned fire, hitting Patterson in the face.

Prosecutors charged Patterson with first-degree assault, possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm. A jury convicted Patterson of second-degree assault, the drug charge and illegal possession of a firearm.

But Patterson appealed the firearm possession charge, saying prosecutors had not provided sufficient evidence to identify him as the “Ryan Patterson” who had a prior felony conviction, which was the basis of the illegal possession of a firearm charge. The court sided with Patterson on the weapons charge but affirmed the assault conviction.

“We concluded that the judgment and sentence submitted at trial alone was insufficient to prove the former judgment element of the charged crime,” Judge Dennis J. Sweeney wrote.

“We then affirm the conviction for second degree assault and reverse the conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm.”

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