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Cotati stun-gun case goes to court

Adams will ask Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Peter Ottenweller to throw out an obstruction charge against Wood on grounds that police entered his home illegally.

"The question is simply this: Do we live in a society of laws or a police state?" Adams asked in court papers filed earlier this week.

The video, which went viral shortly after the May 10 incident, has divided viewers who say that it shows police either overstepping their authority or doing their job to protect the public.

It also has figured in discussions over whether to equip officers with body-worn cameras to get a fuller view of street interactions. Cotati police began wearing them after the incident and other agencies are following suit.

Prosecutors appear to have watched Wood's video in concluding officers acted correctly in forcing their way into his Marsh Way home without a warrant. Their court papers contain verbatim conversations between Wood and the officers before they kicked in his door.

Wood made his video with a cellphone camera when police arrived at his apartment around 4 p.m. Officers were dispatched to a neighbor's report of a loud argument between a man and a woman.

Police peered through cracks in a courtyard fence and saw a man yelling at a woman in a hostile tone. Beer bottles were scattered about and the woman was crying, they said.

Officer Eric Bilcich knocked on the front door and asked the occupants to come out. They refused, appearing at a window instead and yelling, "There's no domestic violence here."

Jennifer Wood, 29, came to the window and told police they couldn't enter without a warrant. Another occupant, James Helton, said he wouldn't open the door "because we don't live in a police state, sir."

"Martial law has not been established in this country," Helton said.


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