WATERLOO — A Waterloo police lieutenant accused of roughing up a delivery driver while off duty during an alleged road rage incident in June was found not guilty.
After three days of testimony, jurors began deliberations at about 11 a.m. Friday and around 2:25 p.m. Friday reached a verdict acquitting Lt. Corbin Payne of misdemeanor assault charges.
Payne briefly smiled as the verdict was read. He then hugged his wife.
Prosecutor Michael Whalen said Payne had approached 22-year-old Robert Carlisle Jr. in a Kimball Avenue parking lot moments after Carlisle allegedly narrowly missed hitting a car Payne’s wife was driving while he passed at high speeds. The state said Payne banged on Carlisle’s vehicle, yelled at him and pulled him out of the driver’s seat by the throat, leaving red marks on Carlisle’s neck.
“The law does not tolerate someone taking the law into their own hands,” Whalen told jurors during closing arguments Friday. “He way overreacted, ladies and gentlemen.”
Defense attorney Heather Prendergast attacked the credibility of Carlisle, who had allegedly hurled a cold coffee drink at another motorist who complained about his driving in an unrelated incident in November.
Prendergast said during the June incident Payne took initiative when he saw dangerous driving, and alleged it was Carlisle who was looking to pick a fight, allegedly using profanity when Payne confronted him about his driving. She said Payne was justified because he told Carlisle to remain in his vehicle and merely held out his hand to push Carlisle back when he exited and approached aggressively.
Jurors were allowed to consider if they believed Payne’s actions were justified and reasonable to prevent injury to himself.
Whalen argued Payne wasn’t justified because the off-duty officer started the incident when he confronted Carlisle in the parking lot and had the alternative of calling for on-duty police officers to address the driving offenses.
The state alleged Payne left the scene before officers arrived in order to duck intoxication tests. The defense noted Payne’s wife told him it was time to leave to de-escalate the situation and drove him from the parking lot, and he called authorities and told them he would be at home if they wanted to talk with him.
Prendergast also disputed the motive of a passerby who testified Payne had grabbed Carlisle by the neck. She said the passing driver had his own unrelated run-in with police that soured his image of law enforcement.
Payne, who hasn’t returned to full duty since the investigation began in June, still faces a police department internal affairs inquiry, said Chief Daniel Trelka.
Payne was placed on desk duty after the incident and then placed on leave when the charge was filed in August, Trelka said. Payne was later assigned to a “non-police function” job at the department pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.
The charge halted the internal affairs probe, which can now resume because of the verdict, Trelka said. He said the outcome of the internal affairs matter will likely take a few weeks.