WALLA WALLA — A man has been acquitted of assaulting a Walla Walla police detective by pointing a loaded semiautomatic pistol at him last year.
At a trial last week, a Walla Walla County Superior Court jury found Matthew R. Hope not guilty of the crime of first-degree assault and an alternative, lesser charge of second-degree assault.
The jury Thursday found that Hope used lawful force in the belief he was defending his property.
Officials said Hope, 39, pointed the gun at Detective Kevin Bayne during an encounter about 8:45 p.m. on June 6, 2012, outside Hope’s residence at 218 Donald St.
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, who was wearing a jacket with the word “POLICE” on the back — reportedly identified himself three times as an officer and told Hope to drop the gun.
But 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 and his attorney, William McCool, maintained in court documents Hope didn’t intend to hurt Bayne or anyone else, but just wanted to scare away people he thought were trespassing in his yard.
Hope claimed he dropped his weapon when he became convinced they were police officers.
By the jury determining Hope’s use of force was lawful, he has the right to be reimbursed by the state of Washington for reasonable expenses involved in his defense. An amount apparently hasn’t yet been established.
He had not been in custody pending the outcome of his case.
Terry McConn can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8319.