Defendant, Cameron Williams appeals a conviction of battery of a police officer in violation of La.R.S. 14:34.2. The sole issue presented in this appeal is the sufficiency of the evidence presented to sustain the conviction. After applying the appropriate standard of review, we find that the evidence is sufficient and affirm the conviction.
La.R.S. 14:34.2 provides:
Thus, in order to convict a person of the crime of battery of a police officer it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) a battery was committed (2) without the consent of the victim (3) when the person committing the battery has reasonable grounds to believe that the victim is a commissioned police officer acting in the performance of his duty.
The defense presented at trial was two-fold; that is, (1) that defendant denied hitting the complaining party and (2) that defendant did not know that the complainant was a police officer acting in the performance of his duty.
Before Oden had an opportunity to place Williams in handcuffs, Cameron Williams, who is the defendant herein and the brother of Charles, approached Oden and attempted to dissuade Oden from arresting his brother. Oden responded that it was too late because Charles was already under arrest. Defendant then cursed Oden and threatened to do him bodily harm. Oden ordered defendant to leave three times. When he refused, Oden informed defendant that he was a police officer and that defendant was under arrest for trespassing. After defendant was arrested, he again threatened Oden with bodily harm and made a move toward him with clasped hands. In an attempt to protect himself, Oden responded by taking a swing at defendant with a flashlight which missed defendant and hit Charles. Oden was then approached in what he testified was a menacing manner by several companions of Charles and the defendant after which he drew his service revolver and told them to stay back. Thereafter, defendant attempted to strike Oden in the face with his right fist and Oden was able to deflect the blow with his right forearm. [It is this particular incident that forms the basis of the conviction appealed from.]
Jesse McGrew, the tenant who lodged the original complaint with Oden, testified that he called Oden because of the loud noise. When McGrew went downstairs from his apartment, he met Oden who showed his identification and asked about the disturbance. Oden then went to the apartment which had been vacated after which he approached the occupied car in the parking lot. McGrew observed a portion of the dispute between Oden and the car's occupants before calling the police. Thereafter, from the window of an apartment over the area where the altercation was occurring, McGrew observed several persons involved in a dispute with Oden. McGrew stated that he knew that Oden was an officer when he saw him because he had on a police jacket which he believed had an emblem on the shoulder. He also heard one of the participants in the fracas state that "you shouldn't hit that man, he's a police officer" about three times.
The witnesses called on behalf of the defense consisted of the defendant, his wife, his brother Charles, Charles' wife, Ronnie Williams [also a defendant] and Wanda Tatom, all of whom had attended Charles Williams' birthday party in Apartment 1502. It was the testimony of each of these witnesses that Oden never identified himself as a police officer and that they did not know that he was an officer until other officers arrived on the scene to assist Oden. Additionally, each witness denied
After hearing all of the testimony, the trial court found Oden a credible witness and the defendant guilty. In order for us to reverse this conviction, it would be necessary that we evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and overturn the trial court on its factual determination of guilt. This is not the function of this court on appeal. See State v. Richardson, 425 So.2d 1228 (La.1983).
Evidence is sufficient to support a conviction when any rational trier of fact, in viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). State ex rel. Graffagnino v. King, 436 So.2d 559 (La.1983). Because it is the role of the fact finder to weigh the respective credibilities of the witnesses, an appellate court will not second-guess the credibility determinations of the trier of fact beyond the sufficiency evaluations under the Jackson standard of review. State ex rel. Graffagnino v. King, supra. Accordingly, we conclude that any rational trier of fact, in viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, could have found the essential elements of the crime of battery of a police officer beyond a reasonable doubt.
Accordingly, defendant's conviction and sentence are affirmed.
CONVICTION AND SENTENCE AFFIRMED.