Archive for Friday, March 11, 2005

Man convicted of threatening police officer with swords

March 11, 2005

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A Lawrence man was found guilty Thursday of threatening a police officer by waving a 4-foot sword during a 2004 incident, and the judge said police used "great restraint" in not shooting the man.

After a half-day bench trial in Douglas County District Court, Judge Stephen N. Six convicted Dennis D. Riley, 54, of aggravated assault on Lawrence Police Officer Shannon Riggs. He acquitted Riley of aggravated assault on another officer, Jamie Emerson, saying prosecutors didn't prove Emerson was in reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

State's exhibit No. 1 sat on a table at the front of the courtroom: a set of two swords in sheaths, one sheath marked with the word "Jesus" and the other marked with the word "Christ."

Defense attorney Craig Stancliffe asked Six to order a mental evaluation as part of Riley's pre-sentencing report.

The incident happened June 25, 2004, in the 500 block of Minnesota Street. Police came to the scene after neighbors called to report that Riley was menacing people in the area with the swords.

An eyewitness described seeing Riley crouch and wave the swords as the officers stood about six feet in front of him with their guns drawn, shouting for him to drop the weapons.

Eventually, he lowered the swords and walked south across the lawn and toward his home, witnesses said. Police followed him and subdued him with pepper spray.

At the end of the trial, Six asked Riley whether he understood that the officers made difficult choices that allowed him to live. Riley said he did.

Six also convicted Riley of aggravated assault on a neighbor, Kansas University student Piero Eugster; found him guilty of battery on officer Riggs; and acquitted him of two counts of criminal damage to property.

No sentencing date has been set.

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