‘Dash cam’ captures altercationPublished 9:07pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Day two of the trial of two men accused of assaulting emergency personnel and law enforcement officers saw the testimony of emergency first responders on the scene and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies, as well as the introduction of a “dash cam” video of the incident.
Bob Covey Sr. and Bobby Covey Jr. are both accused of assault causing physical injury to emergency personnel and resisting a public officer, while Covey Sr. is also accused of two counts of assault on a public officer causing serious injury and two counts of communicating threats.
Pinetown volunteer EMT James Allen Rosene testified Tuesday in Beaufort County Superior Court that on Dec. 24, 2011, he was assaulted by Bobby Covey Jr. and Bob Covey Sr. while on an emergency call to a Five Points Farm Lane address. Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Mike Holloman, Rosene described a routine call in which he sought to stabilize a Covey relative’s back injury until the Pinetown EMS ambulance arrived — a situation that spiraled rapidly out of control when Rosene told the Coveys he could not dispense pain medication and, when they said they’d take the injured man to the hospital themselves, tried to explain that moving a person with a back injury could potentially cause paralysis, according to his testimony. Aggressive behavior and posturing led him to call for backup from the sheriff’s office, he said.
“As soon as I did that, they attacked me,” Rosene said.
Pinetown EMS volunteers Todd and Amanda Boyd were driving around looking at Christmas lights with their children when they heard the initial call and the call for backup, according to Amanda Boyd’s testimony on Wednesday. Second to arrive at the scene, she witnessed Rosene attempting to back out of the driveway, she said.
“In the lights, I saw two male figures but I couldn’t identify them,” she said. “Blood was all over (Rosene’s) face … I couldn’t see where it was coming from at first.”
According to Sgt. Thomas Salinas’ testimony, when he arrived moments later, Covey Jr. approached him with his hands raised, but it was Covey Sr. who came at him in an aggressive manner, prompting Salinas to draw his Taser. Before he could use it, however, Covey Jr. tackled Covey Sr., and began choking him, Salinas said.
During cross examination, Jeff Foster, defense attorney for Covey Jr., implied that his client prevented his father from attacking Salinas, and was never aggressive toward law enforcement during the incident.
“During the altercation would it be fair to say that most of his energies were directed toward his father and not you or the other deputy?” Foster asked.
“Most of his energies? I would say, yes, most of his energies,” Salinas responded.
Investigator Jeremy Landeck testified that he arrived just as Covey Jr. tackled Covey Sr. In the “dash cam” video, Landeck is clearly seen running to assist Salinas, who was attempting to separate the two fighting men, and shouting commands to stop.
“Why didn’t you just back off?” asked Mark Ward, Covey Sr.’s defense attorney, posing the idea that the deputies could have chosen to back away.
“And allow Junior to choke Senior?” Salinas responded. “No, sir. I couldn’t have (backed off) because then I would’ve faced liability … My perception was that he was trying to hurt his father.”
Salinas said that from his perspective, arriving on the scene, knowing he was responding to an assault on emergency personnel, not knowing whether the person originally injured had been in a fight or struggle, and both Coveys appearing to be intoxicated meant he needed to detain them as quickly as possible.
According to Salinas’ and Landeck’s testimony, it was after Covey Jr. had been tased twice that Covey Sr. can be seen on the “dash cam” video assaulting the two officers — punching Landeck in the side of the head and wrestling Salinas to the ground.
The jury dismissed for the day, Foster made a motion to dismiss Covey Jr.’s assault on emergency personnel charge, arguing that “Rosene testified that he couldn’t tell who hit him … There is not a scintilla of evidence that my client touched, accosted or assault the EMT in any way.”
The motion was denied.
Ward made a motion to dismiss one of the communicating threats charges against Covey Sr., arguing that when Covey Sr. told Landeck he’d “never have to worry about the EMT getting to court. I have seven brothers and my ways of getting things done” it was not a direct threat.
Duke dismissed one of the communicating threats charges, reasoning that the threat was never actually made to Rosene.
The trial will continue today.