UPDATED: GPD officer pleads not guilty to misdemeanor

Noel Lemus

Gilroy Police Department Officer Noel Lemus pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest at Merced County Courthouse July 10, opting instead to take the case to trial. Officer Lemus will return for his pre-trial hearing at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Merced County Courthouse located at 2260 N-Street in Merced.
If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
LeeAnn McPhillips, human resources director and risk manager for the City, confirmed the City isn’t providing legal assistance to Officer Lemus.
“Absolutely not, the incident is completely unrelated to his work,” she clarified.
In fact, Officer Lemus is being represented by Heather Phillips from the law offices of Fresno-based Bennett & Sharpe, Inc. The firm’s website says Bennett & Sharpe, Inc. “takes pride in its long history of service to public safety officers” and that it is “well versed in the Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights.” 
The Dispatch contacted Bennett & Sharpe, Inc. to speak to Phillips, but she is on vacation and no one else was available for comment. 
McPhillips refused to speculate on Officer Lemus’ legal counsel, but she did explain her department’s policy for dealing with any situation that involves GPD officers having “contact” with law enforcement entities outside of Gilroy.
“Officers must notify command staff,” she said. “That notification allows the City to assess the situation and decide the appropriate action to take.”
While there appears to be no exact time frame in which officers must notify command staff, McPhillips says officers are expected to “promptly and fully” report any issues involving outside law enforcement entities to their superiors. Failure to comply can result in discipline, she added. To McPhillips, the wording in the requirement doesn’t allow for officers to take their time in reporting problems to their bosses.
“They would have to point to some specific reason that there was any delay in reporting, such as being hospitalized or in a place with no phone service or way to make contact,” she explained.
The misdemeanor charge stems from a run-in that Lemus had with Merced County Sheriff’s deputies March 8 at the home of Lemus’ father, Adolfo, on the 2200 block of East Reilly Road, just south of Merced.
On the night in question, Officer Lemus had allegedly been drinking with family and friends before allegedly firing a Glock .45-caliber handgun. Merced County Sheriff’s deputies responding to a shots-fired call encountered an uncooperative Officer Lemus during a subsequent search of the house.
According to Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Barile’s account of the incident, an allegedly drunk Officer Lemus had barricaded himself in a bedroom and was refusing to comply with demands to open the door. According to the Deputy Barile’s report, he kicked the door open and encountered Officer Lemus standing in the bedroom. After initially appearing to ignore Deputy Barile’s commands, Officer Lemus slowly exited the room. It was at that point that Deputy Barile ordered Officer Lemus to lie on the ground. According to Deputy Barile’s account of what happened next, the Deputy was forced to make the GPD Officer lie fully on the ground by pushing him down with his right foot, after Lemus only lay down partially and again refused to comply with Deputy Barile’s commands.
After subsequent questioning, Officer Lemus lead Deputy Barile to where the handgun had been hidden in a bedroom dresser, according to the report.
At the time of the incident in Merced County, Officer Lemus was on medical leave and also facing two separate GPD internal affairs investigations. McPhillips confirmed that Officer Lemus is still on leave and receiving workers compensation. Lemus has not returned calls for comment.

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