A three-judge panel of Sonoma County judges has rejected an appeal by a Petaluma teen and her mother who were convicted of resisting arrest despite claims of police brutality in a highly publicized case that underscored the importance of police body cameras.
Jurors in 2016 returned guilty verdicts against Gabbi Lemos, then 19, and her mother, Michelle Lemos, then 48, for a late-night incident a year earlier outside their Liberty Road home in which they interfered with a sheriff’s deputy who was questioning an intoxicated family member.
The younger Lemos stepped between Deputy Marcus Holton and her sister, and bumped into him as she walked away. When she refused to come back, Holton grabbed her and threw her to the ground, leaving her with bruises on her face and a black eye.
The entire incident was captured on Holton’s body camera. Following a weeklong trial, jurors returned guilty verdicts against the pair after two hours of deliberation.
A judge sentenced the Lemoses to 30 days in jail. At the sentencing hearing, Holton accused the women of resisting him because he is black. He also expressed relief that he was wearing the body camera to prove his use of force was justified.
The case was reviewed by judges Rene Chouteau, Shelly Averill and Gary Nadler.
In affirming the jury verdict last week, the panel rejected claims by defense attorneys that prosecutors had insufficient evidence, engaged in misconduct and that the judge gave faulty jury instructions.
Neither Lemos has served her jail sentence, a sheriff’s spokesman said Tuesday. It was unclear if they would seek a stay while pursuing another appeal.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.