One man was sentenced to 55 days in jail this week on several traffic-related offenses following a bench trial in the case, which was continued after he was found in contempt of court last week.
Bryan Laury was back in Pahrump Justice Court Monday afternoon on charges of obstructing a peace officer, driving without a valid license, no driver’s license in possession, unregistered vehicle and stop required on signal of a peace officer stemming from an October 2011 traffic stop near Homestead Road.
According to police testimony in the case, Laury was arrested on Oct. 6, 2011 after he allegedly refused to get out of his 2006 black Nissan sedan when ordered to do so by the deputy who pulled him over, and attempted to film officers while asking to see the sheriff and refusing to give police his driver’s license or comply with any of the other commands they gave him at the scene.
Laury was scheduled to have a bench trial in the case on July 29, but the hearing was cut short after Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson found Laury in contempt of court after he gave the defendant multiple warnings to stop interrupting others in the court and delaying the proceedings, which Laury ignored.
After Laury accused Jasperson of being biased toward the state, since he wouldn’t grant any of Laury’s motions, despite his inability to supply case law to support them, Jasperson recused himself from the case and Beatty Justice of the Peace Gus Sullivan was called to preside over Monday’s trial.
Since Laury was previously jailed in the case for disobeying court orders, he was appointed an attorney to represent him at this week’s hearing. Although his attorney said the two had thus far been civil with each other, even though they disagreed on certain things, Laury made a motion to represent himself with the appointed attorney on standby.
The motion was denied in light of last week’s issues in the case.
The state’s first witness was Deputy Wesley Fancher, who was the only witness able to testify during the previous proceeding.
The officer again took the stand and told the court he originally stopped Laury in 2011 after he saw the defendant’s vehicle pass him on Homestead Road with no rear license plate.
He said he turned on his lights and sirens to pull Laury over, but the driver weaved on and off the roadway before conducting a U-turn, finally coming to a stop on the opposite side of the road approximately 45 seconds later.
When the deputy got out of his vehicle to make contact with the driver, he said Laury refused to roll down his window, which was darkly tinted. He said eventually the man did roll down the window about four inches, at which time the officer noticed it appeared Laury was filming him with a hand-held camera.
Fancher said he then asked the man to open his door, thinking the window may not be working, but Laury reportedly refused to follow that command as well.
“He ignored all commands that I gave,” Fancher said. “I was trying to remove him from the vehicle due to the bizarre behavior he was conducting during my attempt to stop him … He was on and off the road, on and off. It appeared he was reaching from something or doing something in the vehicle.”
The deputy further testified Laury told him he did not believe Fancher was an actual uniformed police officer and demanded to see the sheriff.
Asst. Sheriff Rick Marshall soon after arrived on scene to provide assistance to the deputy.
Marshall testified that he was concerned at first glance when he arrived that Laury was pointing a gun at him, before he was able to identify the small silver object coming from the driver’s side window as a camera.
“When I arrived I came in with the front end of my vehicle toward the front end of his vehicle and I saw a silver object pointed at me from the driver’s side window. I didn’t know what it was, I assumed it was a gun,” he said. “After I was sure it was not a gun, and identified it as camera, I walked up to the vehicle and asked Deputy Fancher what was going on.”
The assistant sheriff further testified he also asked Laury to step out of the vehicle, which Laury refused to do, before the defendant began asking if Marshall was a trustee or the “high sheriff of the county.”
After several more commands for Laury to exit the vehicle, Marshall said he asked Fancher to get his baton and break the back driver’s side window after they discovered the doors to the vehicle were locked.
Although police testified Laury never presented a valid driver’s license on scene, a check of his DMV record later revealed his license had been expired since 2006. The car’s registration was also found to have expired seven months prior to the traffic stop.
Laury then took the stand in his own defense, telling the court he never heard the officers ask him to get out of his vehicle and the reason he failed to stop initially was he didn’t realize the deputy was trying to pull him over. He added once he did realize the officer was trying to get him to pull over he wanted to find a safe place to stop.
“I continued forward a few blocks, maybe a block-and-a-half until I found a place I considered to be safe to stop, which was on the other side of the street. So I made a U-turn and then I stopped the car,” he told the court.
He then told the court Fancher allegedly performed a “felony stop” on him, pulling his gun and pointing it at the defendant.
“He was making some kind of commands to roll the window down, I informed him that the car was off, but he had his gun on me so I didn’t want to make any furtive movements inside the car,” Laury testified.
When asked by the prosecution if he thought grabbing his camera and filming the deputy could be considered a “furtive movement,” Laury said he did not.
The defendant said Fancher then moved to the rear driver’s side of the vehicle where he again asked Laury to roll down his window, which Laury said he couldn’t because the car had stalled out.
Laury told the court he never heard Fancher ask him to open his door or get out of the vehicle before his back window was broken out.
He also stated he did not remember speaking with the assistant sheriff until he was outside the car.
After hearing both sides of the argument, Sullivan found Laury guilty of all charges except no driver’s license in possession was dismissed by the prosecution before the trial began.
Sullivan told Laury he thought the defendant put himself in great danger by the way he was driving and his decision to point a camera at the officers in a situation where they couldn’t immediately see what was in his hands.
“I’m kind of puzzled, and of course the question that comes to my mind is the use of the camera. You’re sitting in a car, the officer’s behind you and you’ve got this camera going,” the judge said. “And the intensity that was going on during this traffic stop with the officers and if anybody else was watching, but the intensity of that. And I just think how incredibly dangerous. You know people are shot for pulling out cell phones and they’re shot for doing all kinds of things. It was just incredibly dangerous for you to do that.”
Sullivan subsequently ordered Laury to serve 40 days in jail on the obstruction charge and five days in jail for each of the other three charges. All sentences were set to run consecutive to one another meaning he will serve a total of 55 days in jail in the case.
Laury has already served 41 days so he is set to be released from custody on Aug. 19.