Deputy Convicted in Shooting of Driver in O.C. Traffic Altercation

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was convicted Tuesday of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting a man after a traffic altercation.

Gregory Cook, a court bailiff who was relieved of his duties after the April, 1990, incident, faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 30. The jury also found that Cook had used a gun in the assault, an enhancement that carries with it an additional five years.

Jurors deadlocked 6 to 6 on a second enhancement, assault with intent to inflict great bodily injury. An earlier trial ended with a deadlocked jury, 11 to 1 for conviction on the main charge.

Prosecutors charged that the incident began while Cook was off duty, riding on his motorcycle with his girlfriend. The motorcycle was bumped by a BMW driven by Reginald Lamont Payne, near the intersection of Westminster Avenue and Studebaker Road. The motorcycle wobbled, but did not fall.

Payne, who is black, testified that Cook, who is white, caught up with him at the traffic light and shouted a racial epithet. He told Payne that he was a police officer, that he was armed and ordered Payne to pull over. Instead, Payne said he fled in the direction of the Seal Beach Police Department, abandoning his car in the parking lot of the nearby Rockwell International plant.

Payne said that when he saw Cook's gun he feared that the man was not actually a police officer, so he fled. While Payne was attempting to climb a fence between Rockwell and the police station, Cook fired five times, hitting Payne twice in the back of the leg.

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