Court: Intoxication no excuse for firing at cops

Posted at 12:55 AM, Sep 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-27 01:55:23-04

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday overturned an appeals court decision and ruled that getting drunk and taking prescription medications is no excuse for firing a shot at deputies.

David Allen Kershaw was convicted in Shawnee County District Court of four counts of aggravated assault on a law officer with a deadly weapon for an incident that happened in February 2012 when he was 45.

He was sentenced to 38 months in prison for shooting at Shawnee County sheriff's deputies who responded to a domestic dispute call, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

His wife told police Kershaw was a veteran battling depression at the time of the incident.

During his trial, District Court Judge David Debenham rejected Kershaw's attempt to use voluntary intoxication as a defense for firing a single shot outside his house at four deputies who were attempting to get him to surrender peacefully during a 45-minute standoff.

The confrontation ended when Kershaw was wounded by an officer's return fire.

Testimony during the trial showed that he had consumed a large amount of whisky at the time and was on several prescription medications. Kershaw attempted to argue that he never would have shot at the officers if he hadn't been intoxicated, and that he wasn't mentally able to establish intent to harm the officers.

Debenham ruled that voluntary intoxication was no defense for the crimes Kershaw was accused of committing and gave a jury instruction stating that.

The Court of Appeals overturned the decision, saying the instruction was in error because it allowed prosecutors to convict Kershaw without having to prove he acted knowingly — the mental state required to prove aggravated assault on a law officer with a deadly weapon.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, on Friday upheld Debenham's actions by ruling that because aggravated assault on a law officer with a deadly weapon is a general intent crime, voluntary intoxication wasn't a defense.

The court ruled that a jury instruction to that point is appropriate and that Debenham didn't err in giving that instruction.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,