VALLEJO -- A Solano County Superior Court judge on Monday threw out a Richmond police officer's request for a restraining order, calling the officer "dangerous" and saying his court action was "not brought in good faith."
The judgment, rendered by Judge Daniel J. Healy, was in response to a restraining order request by nine-year Richmond police veteran Dedrick Riley against his Fairfield neighbor.
Riley and the neighbor, Robert Gregory, had a violent altercation after their vehicles nearly collided in their Fairfield neighborhood on the night of Jan. 11. Riley was placed on paid leave after the incident but has returned to nonpatrol duty.
According to a Fairfield police report, Riley pulled his police-issued gun that night on Gregory, 42, who parked in front of Riley's house following a near collision between the two men's vehicles that occurred when Gregory slammed on his brakes while Riley drove behind him.
Riley testified that he was afraid for his life and that of his family when Gregory parked his truck in the street outside Riley's home. Riley said he ran toward Gregory's truck with his badge in his right hand and his police-issued handgun in his left hand at "low ready" position and ordered Gregory to "go home."
"I've got some problems with your story already," Healy said. "Why would you think you're entitled to order people to do anything" and use force while off-duty. "What is your state of mind?"
"We have road-rage incidents all the time," Riley answered. "I was trying to de-escalate the situation."
Gregory suffered a cut and severe swelling to his left eye when Riley allegedly punched him as he sat in his truck.
"He hit me, and when I looked back up, I am staring down the gun barrel," said Gregory, who choked back tears as he testified.
Riley denied ever pointing his gun at Gregory and said Gregory suffered his eye injury when Riley slammed Gregory's truck door as Gregory tried to get out. Fairfield police responded to 911 calls from both men.
Riley was briefly handcuffed and put in a patrol car but was released at Gregory's request, according to the police report.
Riley noted that in the police report, Fairfield officers did not detect any injuries on his right hand consistent with punching someone.
Riley testified that he applied for the restraining order April 25, more than four months after the incident, because Gregory had called the Richmond Police Department repeatedly inquiring about his employment status.
"I was told by an Internal Affairs sergeant that Gregory was calling," Riley said, adding that he was told that Gregory threatened to fight Riley if Riley didn't have a weapon.
Healy was unconvinced.
Riley represented himself in the proceedings. Gregory was represented by San Francisco-based attorney Michael Herman.
Herman noted that Riley has had previous brushes with alleged misconduct. Riley's most recent legal battle was over accusations that he used excessive force in March 2009, when a fellow officer said Riley repeatedly punched a man whom he had observed smoking crack.
A jury in January 2012 acquitted Riley of unnecessary assault by an officer, filing a false police report and battery.
Riley said he was afraid for his life and that of his family on the night of the incident, but Healy said Riley overreacted.
"Aren't you proving the point that you are not stable?" Healy said. "If you believe (that your life was in danger), you should quit and turn in your weapon ... you have no leeway to go to war with your neighbors. You were using deadly force in response to nothing."
"I'm afraid I have to disagree, your honor," Riley replied. "I thought I was in a lethal situation."
"I have no idea why you think that's appropriate," Healy said.
Healy denied Riley's request for a restraining order and ordered the officer to pay Gregory $2,000 in medical and legal costs.
Healy called Riley "dangerous" and added "... the fact that you drew a gun suggests to me that you should not be carrying a gun.
"The citizens of this country deserve police officers that perform better than you did that day," Healy said.
Herman said he was satisfied with the judge's decision.
"This was a frivolous complaint made by a dangerous individual," Herman said.
Riley has referred all media inquiries to Richmond Police Department's spokesmen.
Richmond police said last week an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing.