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Only on CBS13: Video showing officers shooting at fleeing Sacramento woman excluded from her assault trial

Video showing officers shooting at fleeing Sacramento woman excluded from her assault trial
Video showing officers shooting at fleeing Sacramento woman excluded from her assault trial 03:26

SACRAMENTO -- The defense team for a woman on trial in Sacramento criminal court has serious questions about whether her due process right to a fair trial has been violated.

Kyrieanna Liles, 24, is charged with felony assault with great bodily injury on a peace officer in the line of duty, stemming from a November 2023 encounter with officers of the Rancho Cordova Police Department.

In January, CBS13 first reported on the release of the bodycam video and questions surrounding if the officers shooting at the fleeing vehicle was a justified use of force.

As the bodycam video of the encounter plays out, an officer is first shown approaching Liles who is inside her vehicle, parked in her driveway, in her Rancho Cordova neighborhood.

"Ma'am, come out here for a minute," said the officer at her driver's side window.

"No," Liles responded.

"We've got to talk about something," the officer said.

"Leave me alone," Liles said.

The exchange went on like this for another minute.

The officer was approaching Liles that afternoon following a prior 911 call she made herself to police while trying to find her dog. Her neighbors also called 911 after an encounter with Liles when she believed her dog was in their backyard.

However, during the exchange with Liles in her driveway, bodycam video shows that officers did not say she was under arrest, why they wanted to speak with her, or that she had committed a crime.

After Liles continued to refuse to get out of her car, the officer then physically tried to pull her out. Liles reversed the car and began to flee.

Officers then fired ten shots at her, striking her once in the arm. The officers were not injured.

In their defense, officers said that the moment Liles pointed her car in their direction, it was a deadly weapon and they were in danger. Liles was arrested shortly after the incident.

Her trial for the charge of assault on a peace officer started Tuesday, May 21 in Sacramento County criminal court.

"She chose to change directions. She had no way of knowing that one of the officers was going to then run in front," said Jamie Kristen of Liles, her daughter.

Wednesday at the trial, the judge granted a motion from the prosecutor that the seconds of bodycam video that show officers firing their weapons at Liles cannot be shown to the jury as evidence.

In response, Liles' public defender says excluding it "violates her due process right of a fair trial and her right to present all relevant evidence."

Court documents show the judge's decision that "this court has indicated that it will exclude reference to this conduct as irrelevant," stating that Liles' alleged crime of assault happened before the shots rang out.

Only the moments on the bodycam video before and after the shooting are allowed to be shown to the jury.

"They don't want the jury to see these officers standing and pointing their guns at this woman as she is driving away," said Liles, who argues the decision was made to protect the officers.

"The main reason the DA was purporting this video is inappropriate is it would elicit sympathy for the defendant, seeing she was being shot by police officers," said Liles.

Kristen and Liles' public defender argue that the seconds of video during the shooting are critical to her own defense and could prove her innocence. They claim they must be shown in trial.

"That was her intent, to not hit him. When she saw him, she stopped, she turned her tires. It's going to be hard to prove that if certain parts are cut out," said Kristen.

For perspective on this decision, CBS13 asked Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel, who is not involved in this case, to watch the video and weigh in.

"I think the video should be shown to the jury," Reichel said.

Reichel said that everyone has a right to a fair trial and cherry-picking the video, in this case, is wrong.

"The video shows the crime. Yes, it shows them shooting. That puts them in a bad light. The jury can be instructed, 'disregard the officers firing.' The video is shown to show what the driver did, what she corrected when she got out of the way," said Reichel. 

Liles hopes the court reverses course and allows the jury to consider the whole encounter when they decide guilty or not guilty. 

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office is legally required to release bodycam video after an officer-involved shooting. Watch the whole video they put out detailing the encounter at this link.

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