A 53-year-old Pacoima man has been found innocent of a charge that he assaulted a convicted drug dealer by firing a bullet that grazed her shoulder as she stood on the street outside his home.
“We really felt that he was just trying to scare her,” Denise Locker, 25, a juror in the San Fernando Superior Court trial, said after the verdict.
Joe Grant, who has since moved to Santa Clarita, admitted shooting Lelatta Parks on Nov. 8, 1987. He testified he had been frustrated by the spread of drug-dealing in his neighborhood and saw Parks exchange a small plastic bag for money with someone in a car.
He said he yelled at her to leave the area and, when she refused, got a .25-caliber pistol and fired once to scare her. The bullet grazed Parks’ shoulder.
The verdict was criticized by prosecutors.
“The whole community and nation of course is fed up with dope dealers and we want to get rid of them, but I don’t think the jury was out to send a message to the community that they are in favor of vigilantism,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Billy D. Webb said. “I think that all the jury was saying is that she wasn’t badly injured and he was frustrated and we’re not going to make a criminal out of him because of it.”