‘Not normal’: Closing arguments in trial for Rancho Cordova woman accused of assault on deputy

A prosecutor on Thursday told a jury that a Rancho Cordova woman’s actions were “jarring” when she decided to roam her neighborhood with a chef’s knife looking for her dog — and later tried to run over a sheriff’s deputy.

Deputy District Attorney Jenna Forster argued that Kyrieanna Liles’ neighbors were rightfully afraid when she, a stranger to them, tried to break into their home while carrying a chef’s knife with a 6-inch blade.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office has charged Liles with assault with a deadly weapon — the vehicle, a Dodge Challenger — upon a peace officer in connection with a Nov. 20 incident outside her home.

“Ms. Liles has committed the crimes she’s been charged with,” Forster told the jurors. “Ms. Liles put her foot on the gas and aimed (the vehicle) at this deputy.”

Deputy Public Defender Carrie Claremon, who is representing Liles in her trial, argued that Deputy Matthew Bollinger acted unlawfully that morning, opening her car door and grabbing at her wrist to pull her out of her parked vehicle on the driveway of her Malaga Way home without any legal justification.

“She was accosted in her own driveway,” Claremon told the jury. “They (the deputies) weren’t acting lawfully.”

The defense attorney said in court that Bollinger made “an idiotic decision” to jump in front of a moving car as Liles was trying to flee from the deputies’ assault on her.

The attorneys gave their closing arguments Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court, before the jury began their deliberations that afternoon to decide Liles’ fate.

The incident began to unfold about 10:22 a.m. on Nov. 20, when Liles called authorities to report her dog was missing, and that she believed her neighbor stole her dog who she could hear barking from her neighbors’ backyard. She hung up the call before dispatchers could ask her any more questions.

Forster told the jurors that dispatchers repeatedly tried calling Liles back, but she didn’t answer. She answered her phone several minutes after her initial call, telling dispatchers she got her dog back and quickly hung up.

About 10:45 a.m., Rancho Cordova police were called to an Augibi Way home. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is contracted to have deputies provide police services for Rancho Cordova.

The prosecutor told the jury that her neighbors’ Ring doorbell camera captured Liles on their front lawn holding the chef’s knife. Forster said it’s unclear whether Liles was suffering from a mental health crisis or under the influence of drugs when she armed herself to look for her missing dog. She argued the deputies had to investigate; ignoring it would’ve been wrong.

“That’s not normal behavior,” Forster argued. “There’s no way else of putting it.”

The defense attorney said this all started because there was a “distraught” woman looking for her dog and that she was assaulted after she called police for help. She said Liles made a split-second decision to get away from this assault by first pulling out of the driveway in reverse, before driving forward onto the driveway and then the lawn to avoid any deputies or vehicle traffic that might be behind her.

“She didn’t see Deputy Bollinger (as the car started moving forward). He jumped in front of her car,” Claremon said in court. “She has every opportunity to hit him, but she doesn’t.”

The Sheriff’s Office in January released body camera video that showed deputies fired their guns 10 times at the Liles as she drove away from them in her car. Bollinger and Deputy Spencer Hettema, trainee at the time, fired their guns at Liles that day.

Claremon told the jury that deputies’ body camera video shows she applied the brakes on her white Dodge Challenger as she drove around a large tree on the front lawn to avoid hitting the deputy. She also said Bollinger is only claiming Liles showed signs of being under the influence after the fact without any evidence to support it.

“He knows he messed up,” Claremon said about Bollinger. “He knows he put his hands on this woman, and now he has to come up with a reason.”

Pursuing deputies caught up to Liles several blocks away and took her into custody without further incident. She was wounded in the shoulder by gunfire and booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail, where the 24-year-old defendant has been held since then as she awaited trial. Liles’ bail amount was set at $500,000.

While in custody, Liles filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sacramento County and the Sheriff’s Office that accuses the deputies of using excessive force in the November incident. That case is pending and will resume July 12 with a defense motion to dismiss Liles’ case. Bollinger and Hettema are among the defendants listed in the lawsuit filed in February by Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin.