The fate of Cody J. E. Wilson is in the hands of the jury to decide whether a police search of the man in October 2016 produced a pair of prohibited weapons.
Wilson has been standing trial since Friday last week over firearms charges, in which the jury heard that Wilson’s girlfriend at the time had called police from Denny’s restaurant to report that Wilson had gotten into an altercation with her and had firearms.
Police testified to sneaking up on Wilson, in a truck outside the Denny’s, and pulling him out of the truck for a search.
A video of the arrest shows a rough struggle between police and Wilson, with at least one punch thrown by an officer while Wilson was pinned to the ground.
Police allege a handgun was found in one of Wilson’s pockets, while another handgun was reportedly found under a seat in Wilson’s truck, but defence lawyer Michael Patterson cast doubt on where the gun on Wilson’s person came from and who put the gun under the car seat.
“On that day, he did not commit a crime. He did not have any gun in his pocket,” Patterson told the jury in his closing remarks. “Guns were found in the truck. He had no knowledge that the gun was under the seat. He did not consent to the gun being placed there. He didn’t know that it was there.”
Patterson suggested the gun was placed under the seat of the vehicle by Wilson’s then-girlfriend, who had been at home much of the day while Wilson was at work. But that suggestion, in itself, was potentially problematic, as the question of whether someone else was culpable of the crime must be pressed upon that person while they testify.
But the defence painted Wilson as a responsible gun owner, whose weapons were all licensed and who knew how to properly store and secure a firearm — not leave it under a seat.
“Mr. Wilson may have been the president of the local union at a good job, but as your experience will tell you, drugs can lead to bad decision,” Crown lawyer Andrew Vandersluys countered. “You heard from him, confirmed he was using methamphetamine on a daily basis at the time.”
As for the gun that was allegedly found in Wilson’s pocket, Patterson argued the video the jury watched did not clearly show a gun being taken from Wilson.
Patterson suggested the item being taken from Wilson at the end of the video was the baton which police officers suggested was taken from Wilson’s back pocket earlier.
Patterson suggested the lead investigator’s testimony had been contradictory at times.
“The lead investigator cannot remember exactly what he did or when he did it. He said it happened in the day, so many things were happening, I made my notes in my notebook at 10 o’clock in the night,” Patterson said. “But common sense, ladies and gentlemen, would suggest if you are sitting on that baton when you weren’t expecting anyone, it’s just impossible. That’s not what normal people do. You would not be sitting on that.”
Patterson added the baton likely would have fallen out of Wilson’s back pocket during the struggle, and suggested the baton was in the cargo pants pocket, which would have been more secure and would have meant Wilson wasn’t sitting uncomfortably on a baton.
But Vandersluys pointed to two parts of the video — approximately 40 seconds in, a small, metallic clanking sound can be heard, and an object appears to roll along the ground, over the white line marking a parking stall.
That, Vandersluys suggested, was the baton being pulled from Wilson and tossed on the ground, while at the end, when an item appears to be pulled from Wilson’s front, right pocket, Vandersluys said that had to be the handgun.
In that moment, an officer says “I’ve got one right here,” followed by another telling the first officer to “secure it.”
“The officers are referencing the revolver,” Vandersluys said. “Police say ‘secure it’ to indicate a firearm needs to be made safe. Bullets need to be taken out, etc. Police do not say ‘secure it’ about batons.”
The defence also questioned why no fingerprints were taken of the handgun, and also said that the girlfriend had called the police several times to retract her statement about Wilson.
The 11-person jury was asked to deliberate on the issue, and will deliver their decision to the court when a verdict is made.