Butler v. State, 1037, September Term, 2021

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation255 Md.App. 477,282 A.3d 325
Docket Number1037, September Term, 2021
Parties Stanley Charles BUTLER, Jr. v. STATE of Maryland
Decision Date31 August 2022

Submitted by: Claudia Cortese (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender, on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellant.

Submitted by: Peter R. Naugle (Brian E. Frosh, Atty. Gen., on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellee.

Wells, C.J., Beachley, James P. Salmon (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Wells, C.J.

This appeal arises from the tumultuous arrest of appellant, Stanley Charles Butler, during which he initially fled from law enforcement officers, and when apprehended, assaulted several of them. After being taken into custody and upon being transported to receive medical care, an emergency medical technician (EMT) asked Butler about how he became injured. A police officer was also present in the ambulance. In response to one question the EMT asked him, Butler said that he "should not have went for that weapon."

Butler was ultimately charged with disarming a law-enforcement officer, assault on a law-enforcement officer, two counts of second-degree assault, and resisting arrest. He moved to suppress his statement made in the ambulance, asserting that it was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, as he had not been advised of his Miranda1 rights. The suppression court denied his motion. A jury subsequently convicted Butler on all counts, and, over counsel's objection to merge one of the second-degree assault convictions with resisting arrest, the trial court sentenced him to a total of 23 years’ imprisonment.

Butler timely appealed, presenting three issues for our review2 :

1. Did the lower court err in denying Mr. Butler's motion to suppress his statement?
2. Was the evidence insufficient to support Mr. Butler's conviction for disarming a law enforcement officer?
3. Did the lower court err in refusing to merge Mr. Butler's convictions for second degree assault under Md. Crim. Law Art. 3-203(a) into his conviction for resisting arrest?

For the foregoing reasons, we answer ‘no’ to each and affirm.

The Arrest

On July 31, 2020, at approximately 9:00 am, two Easton police officers and a Talbot County Sheriff's deputy responded to a call regarding a car that had been parked for nearly a day in an Easton cemetery. Deputy Donald Johnson was asked to go to the scene with his K-9 partner, Cairo. On arrival at the cemetery, Deputy Johnson heard Easton Police dispatch confirm that there was an active arrest warrant for the car's driver, Stanley Butler. The Easton officers informed Butler of the warrant and requested that he exit his vehicle. Instead of complying, Butler drove off. A high-speed chase ensued, initially with only Deputy Johnson in pursuit, but additional officers joined the chase as the vehicles left Talbot County. By the time Butler's car reached Cambridge, another group of officers, including those from Dorchester County, had placed STOP STICKs3 in the roadway to deflate Butler's car's tires. Butler's car hydroplaned as its tires deflated and the car skidded onto someone's front yard.

Butler, Deputy Johnson, Sergeant Gary Blades of the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, and Cambridge Police Officer Kason Washington all exited their vehicles and Deputy Johnson ordered Butler "to get on the ground." Butler did not comply and moved as if to run, but then "turn[ed] around and face[d Deputy Johnson] and ball[ed] his fists up," at which point Deputy Johnson expected that a "confrontation was about to ensue, that [Butler] was not going to comply." Deputy Johnson ran towards Butler to try to subdue him, but Butler "drop[ped] his shoulder down almost like a football tackle," and Deputy Johnson rebounded off him, landing on the ground. Deputy Johnson tried to lunge upward, but Butler caught him in a headlock and punched him in the jaw with a closed fist.

Officer Washington then ran at Butler and punched him in the face, diverting Butler's attention from Deputy Johnson. Butler grabbed Officer Washington around the waist and fell forward on top of him "in a tackling motion." Officer Washington began "yelling for [Butler] to get off" and "throwing punches at [Butler's] face." Butler was more than twice Officer Washington's size.4 Butler then began to fight with Deputy Johnson and Sergeant Blades, who were trying to pry Butler off Officer Washington. After several seconds, Deputy Johnson was able to pull Butler off Officer Washington, who was able to break free.

Butler spun around to face Deputy Johnson and began "throwing small jabs" into his side, at which point Deputy Johnson advised another officer at the scene, Cambridge Police Pfc. Joseph Buglio, to tase Butler's exposed back. Pfc. Buglio had been trying unsuccessfully to place Butler's left arm behind his back to "get him into custody." Pfc. Buglio tased Butler, but to no effect; he tased Butler again with a second cartridge, but again, the taser was ineffective.

At this point, Deputy Johnson "couldn't hold on any longer" to Butler, so he moved "up to the next level" on the "force continuum" to "strike [Butler] with a closed fist into the left side of his face." Several officers, including Sergeant Blades, Officer Washington, Pfc. Buglio, and Cambridge Police Officer Jones were "trying to get [Butler] to place his hands behind his back and stop actively resisting, to be placed under arrest," while Deputy Johnson returned to his vehicle to retrieve K-9 Cairo.

When Deputy Johnson returned with Cairo, he positioned Cairo near Butler's back below the right shoulder and ordered him to bite. The dog5 was only able to get a grip on Butler's right arm. Butler used "his left hand and trie[d] to swipe [Deputy Johnson's] feet out from underneath [him] and [wa]s still actively resisting at this time." Deputy Johnson "came back with another hard hand hit to [Butler's] left side of the face," and another officer was able to get a handcuff on Butler's right hand.

Deputy Johnson ordered Cairo to release the bite, and brought Cairo around to Butler's left side, where Butler had his left arm "tucked up underneath of him at this point where he is still not giving officers his hand, his left hand." Deputy Johnson's idea was to have Cairo "bite[ ] the same area on this side [so that Butler's] hand will swing out and [they would] actually be able to subdue [Butler] and place him in handcuffs and restrain him." He gave Cairo a second bite command and Butler "still resisted for approximately five to ten seconds," but when Butler "finally stopped moving his arms and resisting," officers were at last able to handcuff him and place him in custody.

The Ambulance Ride

Emergency medical service (EMS) providers then arrived on the scene. Officer Washington had "a bruised back

and a bruised hip" from landing on his gun when Butler tackled him and was taken by another officer to the hospital. In addition to physical injuries, Butler was also reportedly experiencing "shortness of breath" and was EMS's "primary focus."

Butler was placed in an ambulance for transportation to Dorchester General Hospital along with EMT Keith English and Deputy Tracy Kilgore of the Talbot County Sheriff's Office, per police procedure for transporting someone in custody. Deputy Kilgore was wearing a uniform, duty belt, and firearm, and was present "mainly more in an observatory role" and neither made "any statement relative to the investigation" nor "ask[ed Butler] any questions."

EMT English, however, did ask Butler questions "to build some rapport with the patient as [he] would with anybody regardless of what [he is] picking them up for." English asked Butler: "How did we get here? Tell me about your medical history. Do you have any history of respiratory distress, any other preexisting health conditions that I need to be aware of?" After Butler "denied any serious medical history," English asked, "what's going on with the police, obviously there's a police chase," and asked about Butler's "pain in his extremities from the dog bites and also being kicked and tased. [English] said how did we get to that?" Butler replied, "I guess I should not have went for that weapon." English responded, "that's not really my concern, I'm here for you, to provide patient care and to make sure we're okay. That is the police's business, I'm here for your safety and well-being from the time you're in my care until I get you to the hospital."

At Butler's remark about the weapon, Deputy Kilgore silently took out her cellphone and began recording. She never asked Butler any questions during the ambulance ride, about taking a weapon or about any other subject.

Circuit Court Proceedings

At a hearing on May 3, 2021 in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County, Butler moved to suppress his statement to English about going "for that weapon." The court denied the motion, concluding that although Butler was in custody while in the ambulance, EMT English was not an agent of the State for purposes of Miranda .

On May 5 and 6, Butler was tried by a jury and ultimately convicted of attempted disarming a law enforcement officer, one count of assault on a law enforcement officer under Md. Crim. Law Art. ("CR") § 3-203(c), two counts of second-degree assault on law enforcement officers under § 3-203(a), and a single count of resisting arrest. Butler was sentenced to 10 years’ incarceration for the disarming conviction, a consecutive 10-year sentence for assaulting the second officer under § 3-203(c)6 , and a consecutive 10 years for second-degree assault against the first officer under § 3-203(a), all but five years suspended, and a concurrent three years for resisting arrest.

At sentencing, Butler's trial counsel asked the trial court to merge Butler's conviction and sentence for second-degree assault against the first officer, under § 3-203(a), into his conviction for resisting arrest, arguing that the two convictions covered the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • In re Abhishek I.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 31, 2022
    ......The State filed a response, arguing that, because appellant's probation had been closed unsatisfactorily, the conviction was ineligible for ......
  • Swann v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 6, 2023
    ...... based on separate and distinct acts. The verdict sheet also. provides no clarity. Nor did the verdict sheet require the. jury to determine whether the charges were based on separate. and distinct acts. Thus, this case is unlike Butler v. State , 255 Md.App. 477, 504 (2022), where the verdict. sheet "provided further clarity regarding whether the. jury's verdict was based on separate conduct". because it "included a special interrogatory asking the. jurors, if they found [appellant] guilty of ......
  • Robbins v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 17, 2023
    ...... subject to de novo review. State v. Crawley , 455 Md. 52, 66 (2017). "It is undisputed. that second-degree assault merges into resisting arrest under. the required evidence test if the convictions were based on. the same acts of the defendant." Butler v. State , 255 Md.App. 477, 498 (2022) ( citing Nicolas. v. State , 426 Md. 385, 407 (2012)). Such a scenario is. presented where "the assaultive conduct was against a. law enforcement. . 27 . . agent attempting to effectuate an arrest." Id. . at ......
  • Johnson v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 16, 2023
    ...State-and defer to the motions court's factual findings and uphold them unless they are shown to be clearly erroneous." Butler v. State, 255 Md.App. 477, 487 (2022) (quotations omitted). "[W]e review legal questions de novo, and . . . we must make an independent constitutional evaluation by......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT