Judge acquits Catrina Engle on interference charge in Mission post office case; jury trial continues

Although her trial in Johnson County District Court continues into its third day this morning, the woman whose case gained considerable local attention after her husband posted a YouTube video of  her arrest outside the Mission Post office has already won at least a partial victory in her appeal of her conviction in Mission City Court.

Catrina Engle
Catrina Engle

Judge Sara Welch Tuesday granted the defense motion to acquit Catrina Engle on the charge of interfering with a police officer. The six-member jury is still hearing evidence and will be asked to decide the charge of disorderly conduct.

Engle was convicted in August on both charges by Mission Judge Keith Drill. The charges stemmed from an incident at the Mission Post Office on Broadmoor last March when postal workers called police saying Engle had been in the outer lobby yelling profanities.

When police arrived, Engle was near her van outside the post office with her two small children. She refused to provide identification to Mission officer Michelle Pierce who was first to arrive on the scene. As Pierce attempted to place her in handcuffs, Engle straightened her arm and she was taken to the ground and cuffed. Video from the dashboard camera of officer Tim Gift showed the takedown.

After Mission City Attorney David Martin rested his case Tuesday afternoon, the defense moved for acquittal on both charges, contending the city had not provided sufficient evidence. The judge said that the interference with an officer charge requires “substantial” obstruction with the officer’s duty.

In this case, the judge said, the conduct “did hinder” the officer for a few seconds, but that does not make it “substantial.” The judge recounted officer Pierce testifying that the obstruction occurred when Engle allegedly resisted while being put in handcuffs. The takedown only took a few seconds and the entire contact to that point only an estimated 45 seconds, the judge said.

Since the officer’s duty was to investigate a 911 call, that was not sufficient interference, the judge ruled. The motion to dismiss and the judge’s rulings on both charges were heard without the jury in the room. The judge said sufficient evidence had been presented to continue with the disorderly conduct charge.

When defense attorney Joe Dioszeghy opened his case, he first called Engle’s husband David, who was still on the stand at the end of testimony Tuesday. Engle testified that his marriage was “shaky” on the day of the incident when he had told his wife to mail packages for him.

She arrived after the post office had closed and that led to the incident in the outer lobby. Engle testified he was “pissed off” when his wife told him she was not able to mail the packages. He said he called her a “stupid, lazy bitch” and a “f***ing bitch” on the phone.

“We were fighting. I was cursing her.” We were “yelling up a storm,” he said. His wife was cussing back, he said. The defense has implied in its earlier questioning and opening statement that the profanities the postal employees heard Engle use in the lobby were directed at her husband on the phone and not at the employees.

Several postal employees and Mission police officers have testified in the case.