Trial date set in gun-pointing

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WALLA WALLA — A man pleaded innocent this morning in Superior Court to pointing a loaded semiautomatic pistol at a Walla Walla police detective in June.

Matthew R. Hope, 38, of 1234 S. Fourth Ave., is set for trial Nov. 19 on the charge of first-degree assault and an unrelated charge of third-degree assault.

His attorney, Irving Rosenberg, said today Hope didn’t intend to hurt anyone.

Officials claim Hope pointed the gun at Detective Kevin Bayne during an encounter about 8:45 p.m. on June 6 outside a residence in the 100 block of Donald Street.

Bayne and Detective Saul Reyna were in the area to take a different person into custody for an unrelated offense. After that occurred, Hope stood in the yard “in a shooting stance with a handgun pointed directly at (Bayne’s) head,” according to a police report filed in court.

“Bayne raised his empty hand to show he had no weapon drawn,” identified himself several times as a police officer and told Hope to drop the gun. But Hope didn’t comply and moved slightly, transitioning from one shooting stance to another, the report says.

It wasn’t until Reyna — who came out of a nearby garage — pointed his gun at Hope that Hope dropped the magazine from the gun, ejected the round from the chamber and put the weapon on the ground, according to officials.

Hope has suffered from mental disorders, the police report says. The officers decided not to arrest him at the time, but the gun was confiscated and a report forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Hope was arrested Sept. 1 and booked into the County Jail on investigation of third-degree assault for allegedly striking a Benton County sheriff’s deputy on the shoulder at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.

Hope then was formally charged with committing both assaults.

A bail bond was posted for him Sept. 5 and he was released from jail.

Rosenberg told Judge John Lohrmann in court this morning that Hope never intended to harm anyone, adding, “There was an alcohol issue that’s being handled by the VA.”

And in an interview with the Union-Bulletin, Rosenberg said the police report doesn’t portray the totality of what occurred and is written with some statements of events taken out of context.

“Mr. Hope has no animosity toward police at all,” Rosenberg said, adding that Hope pointed the gun at Bayne because he didn’t know he was a police officer. “When he realized, he immediately dropped the gun.”

Hope is a nice guy, volunteers for various organizations and is not dangerous, according to Rosenberg.

“This is just a terrible thing that happened and is blown way out of context,” he said.

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