Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Taser used in Sonoma County court melee

By James Lanaras, Bay City News Service

January 25, 2007

SANTA ROSA (BCN) - A 44-year-old Cotati man was punched by his own attorney and shot twice with a Taser stun gun Wednesday during a melee that emptied a full Sonoma County courtroom after he tried to remove a court bailiff's firearm from its holster.

The Sonoma County sheriff's office, whose deputies serve as court bailiffs, said defendant Martin E. Hirtz, 44, turned on sheriff's Deputy Eric Greenband and lunged for his weapon when the deputy approached to place him into custody on Judge Lawrence Antolini's order.

The 5 foot 11 inch, 180-pound Hirtz was in Sonoma County Superior Court for violating the terms of his probation. He previously was convicted of assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, sheriff's Capt. Dave Edmonds said. Hirtz's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jeff Mitchell, said

Hirtz's probation violation was alcohol-related.

Hirtz grabbed the deputy's holstered weapon with both hands and made back-and-forth jerking motions, authorities reported. Deputy Greenband was using both his hands to keep his weapon holstered but was being forced by Hirtz to bend over backwards against a short wall in the courtroom, Capt. Dave Edmonds said.

Deputy Will Connor tried to remove Hirtz's grip on the firearm and deputies broadcast a radio call for help, Edmonds said.

Then attorneys joined the fray. Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner and Mitchell, who has a black belt in Kempo Karate, participated in restraining the defendant.

Mitchell said he punched Hirtz in the face several times while Waner took hold of one of Hirtz's arms.

"I was watching and I thought it was under control. But from the sound of the bailiff's voice it seemed to be getting worse. He (Hirtz) had his hand on the gun and I heard it was unsnapped. At that point I thought he was going to clear it (the gun),'' Mitchell said.

Mitchell said Hirtz and Waner then fell to the ground and Hirtz never stopped struggling.

Edmonds said Deputy Conner struck Hirtz several times on his arm and head to no avail.

Then Deputy Debbie Little, who came into the courtroom to assist, shot Hirtz with two Taser darts, which had some effect on Hirtz, Edmonds said. Little fired the Taser again and the second shock temporarily disabled Hirtz who was then taken onto custody, Edmonds said.

Mitchell said the incident lasted two or three minutes. Hirtz suffered head lacerations during the melee and was taken by ambulance to Sutter Hospital for a medical evaluation, Edmonds said. He was then booked into the Sonoma County jail for assault on a peace officer and court staff, attempting to disarm a peace officer, obstructing or resisting a peace officer in the performance of his duties, probation violation and other charges, Edmonds said.

Mitchell suffered a bruised right hand and returned to work this afternoon. Waner, who was seen in his bloodied white shirt after the incident, went to the hospital for treatment but also returned to work.

Greenband was treated for strains to his back and shoulder and contusions. He was unable to return to work, Edmonds said.

Antolini's courtroom was closed this morning as a hazardous materials team cleaned blood from the carpet and the scene was processed for evidence.

"It's odd because it happens when you least expect it. It's extremely unusual. The sheriff's deputies have always been good with court security. I think it was handled as well as it could be,'' Mitchell said.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa