William Desmond convicted of misdemeanor, released
Desmond denied pointing a gun at officer during standoff
YULEE, Fla. – A Nassau County man taken into custody after deputies say he pointed a gun at a SWAT team member was found guilty of improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon, then released.
William Desmond Jr., 57, was arrested just over one year ago after a standoff with sheriff's deputies at the Lofton Oaks Mobile Home Park, where he lived.
The Navy veteran had been in jail ever since, unable to post a $100,000 bond.
It all started after his ex-girlfriend told police that she spoke to him over the phone and she thought he might try to kill himself.
Desmond denies all the allegations and believes police used excessive force during his arrest.
The first time Desmond was in court, jurors deadlocked and were unable to make up their mind of whether he was guilty.
This time he hopes that he can show them that he wasn't threatening anyone and wasn't pointing a gun at SWAT officers.
Cellphone video, shot by a neighbor at the end of the 18-hour standoff, shows the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office SWAT team using tear gas as Desmond is in his motor home.
He then walked out and falls to the ground.
While on the ground tactical officers shoot him with nonlethal sponge rounds and then use a Taser gun.
Desmond told News4Jax last month that it shows he wasn't a threat. However, the jurors can't see footage.
Last week, after a motion from the prosecutor, Judge Robert Foster said the video would not be 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.
Several of the officers who responded, both from Nassau County and Jacksonville, testified at his trial on Monday.
One of the officers, who is not being identified because he works undercover, says he was in an armored vehicle when he saw Desmond point a handgun at him.
That's when police said the situation escalated from a wellness check on someone with mental health issues to a crime against law enforcement.
But Desmond said he wasn't dangerous or suicidal, and told News4Jax that he had every right to stay inside his own home with the guns he legally owned and never pointed a gun at anyone.
Desmond's sister, who sat behind him in court, hoped the jury believes him, but he was convicted at the end of a two-day trial.
"He doesn't ever, you know he likes police. He's not anti-police, he's not anything against the government so it just doesn't make any sense. It's being made out to look like he's against police and it's not, he's fighting for his personal rights," said Dee Dee Desmond Snyder, his sister.
She said Desmond could have faced 15 years in prison. But Foster ruled that because his conviction was a misdemeanor and he had already been held for over a year, he could be released.
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