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Willie Jones III speaks during a news conference on July 2, 2021. (Brian Rokos, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Willie Jones III speaks during a news conference on July 2, 2021. (Brian Rokos, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

After jurors announced they were deadlocked, a Superior Court judge dismissed an assault charge against a former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy who had been recorded appearing to kick at a suspect’s head during an arrest in Victorville in 2021.

Corie Smith, in his early 30s, faced one count of assault by a public officer, a felony.

Smith’s attorney, Michael Selyem, said in an interview that jurors deliberated for three days at the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse and took three votes: The first was 6-6, the second was 7-5 for acquittal and the third was 7-5 for conviction.

“I’m not surprised,” Selyem said. “My partner (Kasey Castillo) and I had said that the best the district attorney was going to get in this case was a hung jury. We thought from the beginning that the case should never have been filed.”

Judge Ingrid A. Uhler could have offered the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office an opportunity to retry the case. She made her ruling on Friday, June 7, over the objection of prosecutors, said Jacquelyn Rodriguez, a DA’s spokeswoman.

The alleged victim, Willie Jones III, said at a news conference two weeks after his June 16, 2021, arrest that he was still having headaches from the kicking that he said knocked him unconscious.

But Selyem said prosecutors could not prove that Smith kicked Jones.

Selyem said Smith kicked at Jones twice, the first kick missing and with the second, it was “inconclusive” in surveillance images whether Smith made contact.

The confrontation happened at about 12:40 a.m. after a deputy tried to pull over Jones’ motorcycle for Vehicle Code violations, a sheriff’s news release said. Jones led deputies on a pursuit until he ditched the motorcycle near a car dealership. Jones eventually surrendered.

Video from a surveillance camera shows Jones lying face down, bracing his upper body with his arms. Smith slowly approaches but then takes two quick steps and kicks at Jones. Jones rolls over slightly and both arms are visible. Smith then kicks at Jones a second time.

It was unclear if the deputy left the department on his own.

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