Arnold man shot by officer convicted of hindering police

An Anne Arundel County jury acquitted an Arnold man Thursday of the most serious charges that led up to a police officer shooting him in his home last summer but convicted him of two lesser charges.

Michael A. Housley, 52, was found not guilty of assaulting the officers and related charges by a jury that deliberated less than five hours after a four-day trial. He was found guilty of two counts of obstructing a police officer.

Both sides considered the verdict satisfactory. However, Housley's lawyers also said they expect to seek a new trial and have put county officials on notice to expect a civil suit.

In the July 12 incident, three police officers went to the home at the request of Anne Arundel Medical Center. Housley shut the door to try to prevent them from reaching his wife, Leah Housley. She had been in the emergency room earlier in the day after her husband feared she had taken too much of her prescription medication, and the couple left more than six hours later when she felt well, although she had not been discharged, lawyers said.

Michael Housley refused to let police in without seeing paperwork, shut the door and called 911 for help. Leah Housley said she told officers she would come out after putting a family dog in a bathroom; police kicked in the glass kitchen door and, once inside, used pepper spray and a Taser to try to subdue Michael Housley.

Prosecutors contended that Housley failed to cooperate with police, and officers tried to subdue him. The defense countered that the behavior of the officers dealing with an unarmed man — especially the conduct of Officer Doyle Holquist, who shot Housley — was "outrageous."

After the trial, jurors said they doubted the police officers' claim that Housley was trying to attack an officer with a chair after he was pepper-sprayed and struck twice with a Taser in his home.

Jurors said didn't believe some police testimony, thought the episode had needlessly escalated and found the shooting of Housley to be a troubling use of force. They also said Housley was wrong to shut the door on the officers.

The prosecution said he was shot when he then threatened an officer with a chair, and the defense maintained he was cowering behind it.

"The police are not on trial here," Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Mitchell said in closing arguments Wednesday, telling jurors the officers came to retrieve Leah Housley for an emergency consultation at the hospital and that Michael Housley was uncooperative.

"The cops screwed up and shot this man, and they're lying through their teeth," defense lawyer Timothy Murnane argued in his closing.

Sentencing is set July 7. Mitchell said that the obstruction convictions do not carry specific sentencing parameters.

"Mr. Housley has already paid a dear enough penalty," said Richard Simmons, one of Housley's lawyers, noting that Housley was severely injured and faces more surgery.

Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom barred the defense from telling jurors about other allegations that Holquist overreacted in a pending $700,000 civil lawsuit. George Archie claims that on Sept. 20, 2008 — 10 months before shooting Housley — Holquist overreacted when Archie asked him what was going on in his Glen Burnie apartment complex. Archie said Holquist assaulted him, accusing him of hindering an investigation, and handcuffed him. The suspect police were seeking was in the building next door, according to the lawsuit, and Archie was uncuffed. County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In 2007, Holquist was shot in the leg while chasing an armed bank robbery suspect, and he received departmental honors.

Timothy Murnane's last name was misspelled in earlier versions of this article. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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