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TIMOTHY CAGLE v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

SEPTEMBER 14, 1988

TIMOTHY CAGLE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE DAN LEE, P. J., PRATHER AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

On August 27, 1986, Timothy Cagle was convicted in the Circuit Court of Choctaw County for the offense of simple assault on a fireman in violation of 97-3-7 (1)(a) of the Miss. Code (Supp. 1985) and sentenced to serve a term of three years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, suspended, placed on probation and ordered to pay a fine of $500. The appellant appeals the conviction and assigns as error:

(1) The trial court erred when it held that a fireman from a city in another county was nevertheless a fireman within the meaning of a criminal statute when engaged in rescuing individuals from a wrecked automobile at which there was no fire.

 (2) The trial court erred when it held that the evidence adduced at the trial below was sufficient to withstand a motion for a directed verdict of not guilty.

 I.

 After midnight, January 1, 1986, New Year's Day, an automobile traveling south on Mississippi Highway 15, about six miles south of Ackerman, Mississippi, in Choctaw County, at a highly excessive rate of speed, left the highway, and struck a tree. Two young male occupants were killed outright. Three of the other occupants were trapped in the smashed vehicle, but ultimately survived.

 The Ackerman Voluntary Fire Department responded to the scene, in the charge of an assistant chief. Upon seeing the condition of the vehicle, the assistant chief requested the assistance of the Louisville Fire Department in extricating the three trapped individuals. The Louisville Fire Department was the only group with the" Jaws of Life ", a mechanical device used for rescuing people who were trapped in a badly smashed up vehicle.

 Receiving the call, five members of the Louisville Fire Department responded to the wreck scene. These men were dressed in full turn-out yellow uniforms. A hundred or more onlookers had gathered at the accident scene, among which

 bystanders was the defendant, Timothy Cagle. Cagle and several other of his friends were desperately attempting to free the occupants from the car. One of the occupants of the car, Bill Bounds, was a close personal friend of Cagle.

 Prior to the arrival of the Louisville Fire Department, the group of men was not able to extricate any of the victims from the car. With the aid of the Jaws of Life, and the Louisville Fire Department, the group was able to pry the door open on the vehicle.

 However, Mr. Bounds' legs were pinned underneath the dash. Seeing this situation, the Louisville Fire Department went to work in attempting to pry the dash away from Mr. Bounds.

 At this point, there is a discrepancy in the testimony as to the events preceding the extrication of Mr. Bounds. Chief Sinclair reported that the defendant came up and wanted to talk to Mr. Bounds. The chief, believing that the crew nearly had Mr. Bounds out of the car, asked Cagle to please stand back for a few minutes. The chief testified that the defendant, Cagle, responded by hitting the chief in the left eye with his fist.

 In addition to assaulting the chief, the record reveals that Cagle also had a confrontation with Mr. Stanton, one of the other members of the Louisville Fire Department. Mr. Stanton testified," I looked back down to see if they needed anything, and when I looked up, he caught me under the chin, and we went back around behind the hood of the car. "Cagle verifies the fact that he struck Mr. Stanton. Nonetheless, Cagle denies assaulting Terrell Sinclair.

 In direct contradiction to the evidence presented by Chief Sinclair, Cagle testified that a man in a camouflaged uniform had asked him to move back. Cagle responded by moving back about two feet and squatting down in order to be near enough to console Mr. Bounds. At this time, Cagle testified that one of the firemen (supposedly Mr. Stanton) grabbed him by the arm. Cagle testified," he grabbed me and drug me across - maybe three feet - and we fell, and it threw me in the ditch. Well, I hit face first. My glasses came off, and rolled up under me. And, then, my stepbrother jumped on my back and I ...


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