By Guy Leonard, County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Aug. 21, 2008)—St. Mary's County Sheriff's Deputy David Adam Goff, the law officer accused of beating a St. James man back in May during a chaotic traffic stop was found guilty of second-degree assault and driving while intoxicated by visiting Judge Gary Gasparovic August 15 but the judge amended his ruling minutes later by giving Goff probation before judgment on both counts.
Goff was remanded to the St. Marys County Adult Detention Center to serve two-day sentences for his assault and drunken driving convictions; Goffs jail time had been suspended from 30-day and 10-day sentences by Gasparovic.
Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron said that Goff is still part of the sheriffs office but his fate will be known early next month.
He remains on suspension with pay pending a hearing before an administrative trial board, Cameron told The County Times. And thats in accordance with state law.
The trial took place in District Court with the small courtroom packed with witnesses, media and sheriffs deputies and lasted several hours.
Shane Weasenforth, Goffs victim, was pleased with the initial verdict but left wondering with the judges quick change.
The only disappointment I had was the [probation before judgment] on both charges, Weasenforth said. I really didnt think hed get any jail time. He was definitely way out of line.
Assistant States Attorney James Tanavage said that testimony from Sdfc. Dale D. Reppel, one of the officers who helped arrest Weasenforth for an alleged assault on Goff, was the most persuasive in showing that Goff, who was in plain clothes and off duty, acted improperly that day.
Tanavage said Reppel testified that on May 13 Goff flagged him down while he was in plain clothes driving a marked sheriffs cruiser to make chase against Weasenforth, who Goff had seen driving an all-terrain vehicle along Route 235.
Goff had said in charging documents that when he had stopped Weasenforth while driving his own truck to ask him to stop driving along the road Weasenforth had assaulted him by spitting on him.
Reppel and Goff set out after Weasenforth and when they caught up with him, Goff ran out of the vehicle and confronted Weasenforth, shouting profanities, and grabbing the suspect to pull him off the vehicle, Tanavage said.
Tanavage said that Reppel testified Weasenforth spit on Goff and swung his fist at him, but also that Goff punched Weasenforth three times in the back of the head while both officers had him on the ground.
The evidence is overwhelming of his guilt of second-degree assault, Tanavage said during his closing argument.
Gasparovic agreed, finding that, from court testimony from Reppel and others, that when Weasenforth was down Goff did punch him in the head and that Reppel had to push Goff away from Weasenforth and told Goff to calm down.
His conduct really was irrational, Gasparovic said from the bench of Goffs actions.
Gasparovic did find that Weasenforth resisted arrest but did so probably because he didnt know what was going on.
Gasparovic also found that Goff had been drinking prior to the incident; an employee at St. James Deli testified that Goff had come into the establishment to buy a sixpack of beer.
After the assault had taken place and deputies arrived near the St. James Deli to control the situation, law officers soon noticed that Goff appeared to be intoxicated.
Cpl. Edward Evans testified that Goff told him he would likely not pass a field sobriety test if administered.
You could tell he had an odor of alcohol on him, Evans testified. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot.
Ive been drinking and Ill probably be over [the limit.]
Charging documents alleged Goff had a blood alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit, at the time of the incident.
At the end of the trial, Goff said that he did not have a problem with alcohol, but that his drunken driving was an isolated incident.
Deputy Charged With Assaulting Lexington Park Man, DUI/DWI, May 27, 2008