After about 1-1/2 hours of deliberation, a 12-person jury found Travis Lee Plumley not guilty of using a firearm to intimidate a Kosciusko County Sheriff's Office detective.
During a one-day jury trial on Monday, Plumley, 29, of 55 EMS W25 Lane, North Webster, was found not guilty of intimidation with a deadly weapon, a level 5 felony.
Plumley was represented by John Barrett, Warsaw. The state's case was presented by Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Sobek.
A judgment of acquittal will be filed in Plumley's case.
Affidavit Of Probable Cause
On Aug. 27, 2022, a KCSO detective was informed about a dog being attacked by another dog in North Webster. The detective went to Plumley's residence and determined Plumley let two dogs outside.
According to court documents, the detective told Plumley due to one of the dogs leaving the property and attacking a dog, he was going to document the incident. Plumley and the detective both asked each other for identification. While the detective was providing Plumley's information to the county's dispatch center to further the investigation, Plumley asked for his identification to be returned.
The detective did not return Plumley's ID at that point because he wasn't complete with his investigation. After Plumley was told he was not going to be handed his ID at that time, he said, "You're not even on duty." The detective said he was carrying out his duty as a law enforcement officer and acting in his official capacity.
It was alleged that Plumley removed a handgun from his waistband and chambered a round while in the detective's view. The detective threw Plumley's ID at his feet in order to distract Plumley, giving the detective an opportunity to retreat and seek safety.
Plumley spoke to an Indiana State Police trooper and said he pulled out his handgun, chambering a round after he asked for his ID back several times. Plumley said he called 911 about a man claiming to be from KCSO at his house and that the man was putting on body armor.
The trooper listened to a recording of Plumley's 911 call and heard Plumley clearly state there was an off-duty deputy at his residence.
Five women and eight men were seated on the jury in Kosciusko Superior Court I shortly after 11 a.m. Monday, with Judge Karin McGrath presiding. One of the jurors was an alternate.
In his opening statement, Sobek provided additional details on the case, noting the detective's wife and child were out walking a dog they were pet-sitting when they were attacked by two loose dogs. Sobek said the wife called the detective following the incident and the detective went to Plumley's home in plainclothes and an unmarked police vehicle. The detective was also unarmed during the confrontation with Plumley.
Barrett described the case as "unusual" since the detective approached Plumley in plainclothes and an unmarked vehicle. He argued in his opening statement the evidence would show the detective came into the situation "pretty hot" since it involved his wife and child.
In regards to the firearm, Barrett said the gun was only displayed and never pointed at the detective.
"At the end of the day, this case is about perspective," said Barrett. "This stems from confusion and fear, not bad intentions. This encounter was doomed from the start."
Sobek began the state's case by playing the 911 call Plumley made following his interaction with the detective. In the call, Plumley mentioned an off-duty officer not giving him his ID back. He also told the 911 operator he did not pull a gun but owned one.
The state's first witness was the detective's wife, who said she and her son were walking a dog together when she heard someone yell, "Hey." When the wife turned around, she saw two dogs run toward her and begin circling around the group. She said she could hear one of the dogs growl and that the dog they were pet-sitting was bit in its side.
The wife described the incident as "a super emotional situation," with a lot of nearby residents coming out of their homes when they heard the commotion. After spending about 10-15 minutes in a resident's garage to regain composure, the wife called the detective and told him what happened.
In cross-examination, Barrett asked the wife if she told her husband to deal with the situation. She said she didn't and that she only called him to discuss what happened. She told Sobek in further testimony that she didn't remember her husband specifically telling her anything that he was going to do during their phone call.
The state's second witness was the KCSO detective. In his testimony, the detective said his wife told him where the dogs' owner lived by describing the color of the house and a vehicle parked in the residence's driveway. He said he discussed leash laws with Plumley and told him about civil liability and state statutes.
While taking a picture of Plumley's ID to document the incident as an animal control issue, the detective said Plumley pulled a gun from his hip and racked the firearm.
In cross-examination, the detective said his wife didn't ask him to do anything about the situation and said law enforcement typically informs the county's dispatch center when they arrive at a scene. The detective said this didn't happen with this incident and that Plumley was detained at one point, but was never placed in custody by the detective himself.
He also testified that Plumley did not make any verbal threats toward him and that he was not upset even though his wife and son were involved.
The state's third and final witness was KCSO Lt. Kevin Gelbaugh, who was notified about retrieving the firearm involved in the incident. A bag of ammunition and the handgun Plumley owned were presented as exhibits to the jury.
Following Gelbaugh's testimony, Sobek rested the state's case. Barrett called no witnesses and Plumley did not testify.
In closing arguments, Sobek asked the jury what a reasonable person would do in this situation. He said the state's intimidation statute discusses intimidation being through words or action.
"(The detective's) gut told him, 'This guy wants to shoot me,'" said Sobek. "The defendant's actions said everything."
Barrett asked the jury what Plumley's criminal intent was.
"It's not illegal to own a gun, to cock a gun," said Barrett.
Barrett also noted conflicting testimony from the detective and his wife about the state of emotions on the day in question and emphasized Plumley calling 911 shortly after being approached by the detective. He asked the jury to consider the evidence, arguing it was unclear on if the detective was being an off-duty detective or being upset about the incident.
"Is (calling 911) the action of someone who sets out to commit a felony?" asked Barrett. "And are you a cop working as a cop or a cop working as an angry husband?"