A man was convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison Monday for assaulting an Orange County Sheriff's deputy by trying to take her firearm and physically struggling when she attempted to arrest him at Armstrong Garden Center in Laguna Niguel in October 2010.
Thomas Andrew Spence, 28, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, removing a firearm from a peace officer, and battery on a peace officer with injury, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
At around 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2010, Spence, of Mission Viejo, was lying outside between two bushes near Armstrong Garden Center with his hands down his pants, which were undone. Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Michelle Rodriguez observed the defendant and attempted to contact him. When Spence saw the deputy, he removed his hands from his pants and began to run away, according to the D.A.
When Deputy Rodriguez caught Spence, the defendant became aggressive. Deputy Rodriguez deployed her Taser at the defendant's chest, but the strike hit the defendant's tie and was ineffective. Spence continued to approach the deputy, who removed her baton and struck him one time in the knee. Spence was unfazed and grabbed the deputy's flashlight, according to the D.A.
Deputy Rodriguez drew her firearm and ordered the defendant to put down the flashlight, fearing that he may use it as a weapon against her. As Spence put the flashlight down, he advanced toward the deputy and grabbed her firearm with both hands.
The defendant struggled with the deputy to take her firearm. Deputy Rodriguez fired the weapon twice before it jammed. Spence was not hit. Spence finally let go of the firearm and attempted to flee the scene. Responding back-up deputies arrived and arrested the defendant with Deputy Rodriguez, according to the D.A. The deputy suffered scratches and abrasions to her temple, hands, elbow, knees, and hip.