Guam – A Superior Court jury this morning [Thursday] found Guam Police Officer Steven Topasna guilty of misdemeanor assault, but acquitted him of the more serious felony charges of Assault as a 3erd Degree Felony and Official Misconduct as a Misdemeanor
The Jury deliberated over the course of 3 hours yesterday and today before reaching their verdict at about 11am this morning.
Topasna’s Defense Attorney Randy Cunliffe told PNC News “Obviously I’m disappointed he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault, since they found him not guilty of felony assault and official misconduct.”
Officer Topasna was off-duty and not in uniform when he assisted 2 other officers in arresting Rey Gagarin who was standing in front of his house back in August 2008.
Topasna had been searching for the person responsible for smashing the windows on his car when he came across the arrest in progress. Prosecutors charged that Topasna punched Gagarin in the face during the arrest because he was angry at the damage to his vehicle. Gagarin was not responsible for that vandalism to Topasna car.
Cunliffe argued that the other officers did not see Topasna throw any punches. And Cunliffe maintained that Topasna was merely assisting the other officers in making the arrest of Gagarin.
“It was unfortunate that Gagarin was injured when he was wrestled to the ground,” said Cunliffe, “but it was clear that Gagarin resisted arrest.” Officer Topasna, he said, was doing his duty.
The 2 day trial was held before Superior Court Judge Vern Perez.
Topasna faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and a thousand dollar fine on the misdemeanor assault charge. No sentencing date was set.