A female Orange County Sheriff's deputy spotted a man in bushes near a Laguna Niguel garden center Wednesday with his hands in his pockets and his pant undone. So, she confronted him. A foot chase followed and, when she caught up with him, he allegedly tried to take her firearm and physically struggled with her as she tried to arrest him.
Now, 26-year-old Thomas Andrew Spence of Mission Viejo is looking at 18 years in state prison if he is convicted of the charges against him detailed in the Orange County District Attorney's Office statement that follows.
October 7, 2010
MAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING SHERIFF'S DEPUTY AND TRYING TO TAKE HER FIREARM DURING PHYSICAL STRUGGLESANTA ANA - A man has been charged with assaulting an Orange County Sheriff's deputy by trying to take her firearm and physically struggling when she attempted to arrest him. Thomas Andrew Spence, 26, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count each of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, removing a firearm from a peace officer, battery on a peace officer with injury, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison. Spence is being held on $150,000 bail and is scheduled for arraignment today, Oct. 7, 2010, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
At approximately 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2010, Spence is accused of lying outside between two bushes near Armstrong Garden Center in Laguna Niguel 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 is accused of removing his hands from his pants and beginning to run away.
When Deputy Rodriguez caught Spence, the defendant is accused of becoming aggressive. As the deputy attempted to detain the defendant, Spence is accused of struggling with her and grabbing her flashlight. 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 is accused of advancing toward the deputy and grabbing her firearm with both hands.
The defendant is accused of struggling with the deputy to take her firearm. Deputy Rodriguez fired the weapon twice before it jammed. Spence was not hit. Spence is accused of finally letting go of the firearm and attempting to flee the scene. Responding back-up deputies arrived and, with Deputy Rodriguez, arrested the defendant.
The deputy suffered scratches and abrasions to her temple, hands, elbow, knees, and hip.
Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.