Aggravated assault, child abuse charges stem from 2018 incident
Former Chaves County sheriff’s deputy David Bradshaw was found guilty Wednesday of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and child abuse, as well as two firearm enhancements.
The charges are related to a traffic dispute that escalated into a confrontation between two armed men while the young son of the off-duty deputy was in one of the two vehicles.
Bradshaw is due to be sentenced at a July 12 hearing.
Although no one was physically injured during the events of March 18, 2018, the prosecution, headed by District Attorney John P. Suggs of the 12th District Judicial Court, successfully argued that Bradshaw had subjected his 2-year-old child to “substantial and unjustifiable risk” through his actions and had “intruded on (the victim’s) bodily integrity” by pointing a gun at him.
“This case is difficult for a prosecutor,” said Suggs in his closing argument. “Our partners are law enforcement.”
But he told jurors that they should not consider Bradshaw’s reputation or profession as they weighed the testimony and evidence, which included a video of the confrontation in front of the other driver’s house.
“The law should apply equally to everybody,” Suggs said. “At the end of the day, all we are dealing with is a road rage incident.”
In contrast, Bradshaw’s lawyer, Doug Jones-Witt, told jurors that Bradshaw considered himself to have a duty to protect the public at all times and, as a DWI enforcement officer, reacted the way he did because he was concerned about the other driver’s “reckless” driving, suspecting that he could be intoxicated.
“There are some who take their oath that they are to protect their community very, very seriously,” said Jones-Witt.
Bradshaw, 43, was allowed to leave the courtroom following the verdict by the jury, which had heard testimony and reviewed evidence for a day and a half while in Court Room 3 of the Fifth District Judicial Court of Chaves County. Their deliberations took about two and a half hours. Judge Raymond L. Romero of Eddy County presided over the trial after all four District Court judges from Chaves County recused themselves.
Bradshaw faces a minimum of a one-year sentence and a maximum of up to six and a half years, Suggs said.
The child abuse charge, a third-degree felony, carries a possible three-year sentence, while the aggravated assault charge, a fourth-degree felony, has a possible sentence of 18 months. The firearm enhancement findings carry a mandatory one-year sentence and up to two years.
Bradshaw was charged in June 2018 for the incident in Roswell. According to Suggs, a man who lives in south Roswell was driving on North Washington Avenue when he cut in front of Bradshaw’s personal vehicle, a pickup, which had Bradshaw’s 2-year-old son as a passenger.
Bradshaw began to follow the man, who admitted he began to speed as he became concerned about someone pursuing him.
The victim tried to evade Bradshaw by driving in circles around a few blocks, but eventually he drove to his home. Bradshaw pulled up a short time later, parking his vehicle in front of the driveway, blocking the other man’s car.
What happened next is in dispute. According to the prosecution, the victim was unaware that Bradshaw was an officer, so he put his gun in his pocket, got out of his car and approached Bradshaw’s pickup, where Bradshaw’s son now lay on the floorboards. Soon after, Bradshaw pointed a revolver at the man, Suggs said. On the video, the man can be seen raising his hands in the air.
Within a couple of minutes, a deputy that Bradshaw had called while following the driver showed up on the scene. According to the prosecution, that former deputy, Rebecca Chavez, said Bradshaw was upset, cursing about being cut off and calling the man foul names.
“You’re angry. You’re mad. You are not calm and collected,” Suggs said.
Suggs said Bradshaw’s actions were not considered appropriate by Chavez or former Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder, both of whom testified, or by the standard operating procedures of the Sheriff’s Office.
Jones-Witt argued that his client had never pointed his gun at the other driver, but kept his revolver at “low ready” near his side or in his holster. He said Bradshaw felt obligated to deter a dangerous driver who could have been a danger to others. He said Bradshaw had not driven recklessly himself, but had obeyed the speed limit, traffic signs and signals.
Bradshaw’s acts of caution include making his son leave his booster seat and lie on the floorboard and calling on-duty deputies to respond to the incident soon after he began following the other man, Jones-Witt contended.
The defense lawyer also said that Bradshaw was not solely responsible for the situation the child was put in, that the other driver’s actions also contributed to that.
Suggs said Bradshaw’s account did not add up.
“Think about the inconsistency of what he is saying,” he told jurors. “I was following him because he was so dangerous, but he wasn’t so dangerous that I couldn’t have my child with me.”
The July 12 sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Chaves County Courthouse.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.