Fired police officer
shows relief at acquittal

The fresh recruit was cleared of
threatening his wife with a gun

A former police officer says he will find a way to continue with his life after he was acquitted of charges that he threatened his estranged wife and her boyfriend with a gun.

A Circuit Court jury deliberated for about four hours before finding Soukvisan Phanthadara not guilty Friday of two counts of terroristic threatening and one count of abusing a family member.

Phanthadara, 34, wept after the verdicts were read and later described the feeling as having a "big stone off his chest."

Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado had argued that Phanthadara finally "lost it" on Nov. 7, 2004, because of his wife's infidelity and dishonesty. He was working two jobs to pay off their bills while she became unhappy in their marriage and deserted him and their daughter for another man. She also stole his retirement money from his previous job and forged his checks. So when a check he had written for their daughter's lunch money bounced, he suspected his wife of cleaning out their account and finally decided to confront her and her lover, Arrisgado said.

Phanthadara admitted he was angry and went looking for her in the early morning hours at Restaurant Row, found their Nissan Pathfinder parked in the garage and waited. He contends he had removed his service handgun -- which he carried even while off-duty -- from its holster and was holding it when he noticed his wife, a man and another woman walking together.

He testified his wife ran up to him and pushed his hand holding the gun down as he tried to put the gun in his fanny pack. He admits he yelled at her and slapped her during the confrontation, but denies threatening her and the male with the gun. He learned only that night that the male was her boyfriend.

His wife's boyfriend testified he saw the gun but couldn't remember if it was pointed at him. His wife's female friend testified the gun was pointed in their direction, but not specifically at anyone.

Phanthadara was terminated from the department because he was fresh from the Police Academy and on probation at the time of the incident, defense attorney Keith Shigetomi said.

Having to leave the department was "devastating," Phanthadara said.

"I could file a grievance, but I'm not going to do that," he said. "I'm just going to move on."

While his marriage is over, he says he has his daughter and has since found other work.

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