State v. I.J.S., 82559-3-I

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtDwyer, J.
Decision Date14 March 2022
PartiesSTATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent, v. I.J.S., Appellant.
Docket Number82559-3-I


I.J.S., Appellant.

No. 82559-3-I

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

March 14, 2022


Dwyer, J.

Based on an incident during which juvenile I.J.S. attempted to spit at a police officer, the juvenile court found I.J.S. guilty of assault in the third degree. I.J.S. contends that (1) insufficient evidence supports the conviction and (2) the trial court erred in denying I.J.S.'s motion to suppress evidence of the assault. Finding no error, we affirm.


On March 26, 2020, Sergeant Fairchild, Officer Burnett, and Officer Wallace responded to several 911 calls about a domestic violence event ongoing at an apartment complex in Everett. A witness at the scene showed officers a short video of two individuals fighting and informed the officers that the individuals in the video had gone to unit 52.

The officers went to unit 52 and heard yelling from inside. Sergeant Fairchild went around to the back of the unit while Officers Burnett and Wallace


stayed at the front door. After Officer Wallace knocked and announced the presence of the Everett Police Department, I.J.S.'s mother opened the front door and yelled that her son had been assaulted and "continued to yell, but [police] were unable to understand what she was saying to us because of how emotional she was." I.J.S. was also yelling in the background.

All three officers entered the apartment and separated I.J.S. and his mother. Sergeant Fairchild and Officer Wallace took I.J.S. into the living room and asked him to sit on the couch. Officer Burnett described the ensuing events as follows in his police report:

[I.J.S.] began to comply, but the[n] got up and attempted to climb over the couch and go toward his mother. Both officers then took ahold of [I.J.S.] and attempted to sit him back down on the couch. [I.J.S.] was non-compliant with verbal commands and began to resist the officers. [I.J.S.] continued to resist the officers and appeared to be trying to get away from them. [I.J.S.]'s resisting eventually pulled all three of them to the ground. On the ground he continued to fight, attempting to get away from Sgt. Fairchild and MPO N Wallace. While on the ground, Sgt. Fairchild and MPO N Wallace were able to get [I.J.S.] onto his stomach and place him into handcuffs. MPO N Wallace then left Sgt. Fairchild to assist me with [the mother], who was continuing to scream throughout this interaction
While I was trying to talk to [the mother], I heard her shout, "Don't do that, that's assault of an officer!" This caught my attention and I turned to Sgt Fairchild who was with [I.J.S.]. I saw that Sgt. Fairchild had his glasses knocked off his face and that he was attempting to put them back on. I later learned that [I.J.S.] had turned his head and spit directly at Sgt. Fairchild's face and then attempted to throw Sgt. Fairchild off him. This had caused Sgt. Fairchild's glasses to get knocked off his head.

Sergeant Fairchild reported that

[I.J.S.] continued to yell that we needed to leave the apartment. He eventually stood up on the couch and started to leap toward Ofc
Burnett and his mother. MPO Wallace and I grabbed [I.J.S.] and attempted to control his movement. I had his left arm, while MPO Wallace held his right. While giving him commands to stop resisting and to calm down, [I.J.S.] attempted to pull his arms free. In order to better control [I.J.S.], MPO Wallace and I took [I.J.S.] to the living room floor. There I pinned his left arm while MPO Wallace handcuffed his right. I then moved [I.J.S.]'s left wrist to his lower back area where he was handcuffed.
While we were attempting to control [I.J.S.], Ofc Burnett was trying to contain [the mother]. I could hear her yelling about us hurting her son. With [I.J.S.] secured, I told MPO Wallace he could help Ofc Burnett with [the mother]. Once MPO Wallace released [I.J.S.]'s right arm, I moved to sit on top of [I.J.S.]. He continued to move and attempted to get to his right side, facing me. Through my experience (23 years as an Everett Police Officer), I know a person attempting to turn toward an officer will likely attempt to kick or assault them. I used my knees to pin [I.J.S.]'s arms down, while seated on his back. After he complained, and promised to comply with my instructions, I moved to his left side. [I.J.S.] started to yell and call me a "fucking nigga" and similar phrases. At one point, he lifted his head and turned toward me. I saw him form a loogie and start to prepare to spit it at me. At the last second I moved to my right as the loogie went past me by just inches.
Finally, Officer Wallace's described the events as follows:
As I made my way to the kitchen I observed [I.J.S.] began to try and climb over the couch in the direction of [the mother]. We stopped him before he could get into the kitchen. We both took grasp of one of his arms. I am not sure if it was the left or right arm I grabbed. [I.J.S.] was now twisting and trying to get out of our grasp. We then forced [I.J.S.] to the ground and onto his stomach. When I forced him down I did so by applying forward and downward pressure to his shoulder. He resisted going to the ground, but we were able to overpower him. Once he was on the ground I detained him in handcuffs.
As this was going on [the mother] became even more enraged and began screaming at us. [I.J.S.] was trying to buckle and escape our control, but we were able to pin him down. Once we had control of him I left to help Officer Burnett.
[The mother] was still screaming and I tried to get her to calm down to tell me what happened. My back was to [I.J.S.] and Sgt Fairchild. There was still a commotion coming from [I.J.S.] as Sgt
Fairchild tried to contain him. I then heard the commotion escalate and [the mother] then yelled "Don't do that, that's assault on an officer". I turned my head to see Sgt Fairchild struggling to keep [I.J.S.] down. I went to assist him and held his legs in place. I was then informed by Sgt Fairchild that [I.J.S.] tried spitting in his face.

I.J.S. was charged with assault in the third degree. I.J.S. moved to suppress all evidence of what occurred in the apartment based on the contention that it was the result of a warrantless entry. The trial court concluded both that the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement applied and that the officers' entry into the apartment was lawful.

Following a bench trial on stipulated facts, namely the police reports quoted above, the trial court found I.J.S. guilty as charged.

I.J.S. appeals


Initially, we address the sufficiency of the evidence claim. However, in order to do so we must begin by addressing the scope of our review. Relying on our State Supreme Court's decision in State v. Homan, 181 Wn.2d 102, 105-06, 330 P.3d 182 (2014), I.J.S. contends that our review is "limited to determining whether substantial evidence supports the findings of fact and, if so, whether the findings support the conclusions of law."[1] This standard, however, conflicts with the sufficiency of the evidence standard for criminal cases announced by the United States Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), and adopted by our Supreme Court in State v. Green, 94 Wn.2d 216, 220-22, 616 P.2d 628 (1980). Because we believe that


the Supreme Court misspoke in its Homan decision, we apply the Jackson standard instead.

In Jackson, the Court held that

[a]fter [In re] Winship[, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970), ] the critical inquiry on review of the sufficiency of the evidence to support

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