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Police chief's wife found guilty of firing at officers in O.C.

Brinda Sue McCoy, the wife of the Oceanside police chief, faces up to 30 years in prison. She will be sentenced Sept. 10.

June 19, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • Brinda Sue McCoy, the wife of the Oceanside police chief, sobs in court after a jury in Orange County found her guilty of firing a weapon at officers outside her Cypress home in 2010.
Brinda Sue McCoy, the wife of the Oceanside police chief, sobs in court after… (Mark Boster, Los Angeles…)

A police chief's wife who claimed she was in a suicidal spiral after drinking martinis and taking prescription medicine was convicted Monday of firing her husband's service weapon toward officers who had swarmed her Orange County neighborhood after she barricaded herself in the family home.

Jurors found Brinda Sue McCoy, whose husband is the police chief in Oceanside and the former mayor of Cypress, guilty on five counts of assault on a peace officer and a single count of firing a gun with gross negligence.

She faces up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 10.

McCoy, 49, sobbed as the verdict was read. Jurors, who deliberated about five hours before reaching a verdict, appeared shaken and teary eyed. They declined comment.

The mother of four is free on $250,000 bail but is to remain at her Cypress residence, must agree to electronic surveillance and surrender her passport, said Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno

During two days of dramatic testimony, McCoy told jurors that on Dec. 16, 2010, she was overwhelmed with dark thoughts after an argument with her husband and son and sat in an upstairs room listening to a Sarah McLachlan song over and over. She said she'd taken prescription medicine to calm herself and was drinking martinis.

"I was feeling overwhelmed, distraught," she testified.

McCoy said it occurred to her that if she summoned police to her house, they might shoot and kill her. She recalled reading about an incident days earlier when a man wielding a garden hose nozzle was killed by Long Beach police officers.

"I believed that if I wasn't there, my friends and family would be relieved that I wasn't suffering anymore," she said.

McCoy said she called friends and family before and after dialing 911, and told them the names of songs she wanted played at her funeral.

When Cypress officers arrived, McCoy said she wavered between wanting to die and wanting the situation to end. She said she became increasingly agitated by a police officer shouting her name and wanted her son's truck, parked in front of her home, moved.

After pointing the gun at the ceiling and then to her head, she eventually fired twice in the direction of police, hitting the truck and a parked car. Officers had taken position near both of the vehicles.

The standoff ended when McCoy crawled to the front door. She was shot with a beanbag and arrested.

Her attorney, Lewis Rosenblum conceded that his client fired the weapon carelessly, but he said she never aimed it at police officers.

"She never said she was going to shoot a police officer," he said during closing arguments last week.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebecca Olivieri argued that McCoy shot the gun even after being warned that she could harm an officer if she fired. She said that given McCoy's background, with family members in law enforcement and a career as a registered nurse, she well knew what would happen if she called police.

"There was substantial evidence to show that she had committed this crime," Olivieri said after the verdict. "It was overwhelming."

Neither Rosenblum nor McCoy commented on the case.

Some friends and family members wiped away tears after the verdict. Before walking from the courtroom, McCoy and her husband hugged.

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