A Nassau County, Florida man is standing trial for the second time after remaining in jail for a year, because jurors were unable to come to a decision in his case.
57-year-old Navy veteran William Desmond Junior, was arrested a year ago Monday, after Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office SWAT Deputies responded to his Lofton Oaks Mobile Home Park in Yulee, to preform a welfare check on the man.
Desmond’s ex-girlfriend had told police that she spoke to him over the phone and thought he might be suicidal.
During the incident, police claimed Desmond pointed a gun at a SWAT team member as officers tried it to take him into custody, escalating the situation from a wellness check on someone with mental health issues to a crime against a law enforcement.
The Navy vet was arrested and has been in jail ever since, unable to post a $100,000 bond.
Desmond denies police claims and says officers used excessive force during his arrest. He had hoped cellphone video, shot by a neighbor showing officers shoot him with nonlethal rounds and tase him after he surrendered, would help persuade jurors this time – But there’s a problem: the judge has barred its showing.
Last week, after a motion from the prosecutor, Judge Robert Foster said the video wasn’t allowed as evidence during the trial. The judge has also issued a gag order, prohibiting those involved in the case to speak about it outside of the courtroom.
The footage shows the end of the 18-hour standoff, after SWAT officers deploy tear gas into Desmond’s motor home. He then walks out and falls to the ground.
While on the ground tactical officers shoot him with nonlethal sponge rounds and then use a Taser.
Desmond says he had every right to stay inside his own home with the guns he legally owned, that he wasn’t dangerous or suicidal, and that he never pointed a gun at anyone.
Desmond is facing up to 15 years in prison. The trial reconvened at 9 a.m. Wednesday where he was set to testify.
According to family, the State Attorney’s office has offered Desmond a plea agreement four times but says he doesn’t want to lose his rights as a convicted felon and will continue standing up for what is right because he did nothing wrong.
Local news coverage containing raw footage: