Man guilty of pulling gun on officer

Prosecutor Nicole Reed discussing Habitual Felony Offender and Prison Release Reoffender status with the defendant and his attorney.

A Panama City man who had been out of prison for less than a year has been found guilty of Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer and is set for sentencing June7, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Theodore Storey was found guilty of that charge and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm after about 90 minutes of deliberation by a Bay County jury Wednesday. Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson also found that Storey violated his probation when he pulled a gun on a police officer July 30, 2020.

Prosecutor Dustin Miller makes a point during closing arguments.

“The defendant made a choice that night to pull a weapon on a law enforcement officer,” Prosecutor Nicole Reed told jurors during closing arguments. “Instead of complying (like the other occupants of the vehicle), what did he do? He pulled a gun.”

“And that choice has consequences,” Reed continued. “He needs to be held accountable for what he did.”

Reed and Co-Prosecutor Dustin Miller presented witnesses and evidence showing that the defendant was one of four men sitting in a car in a high-crime area that night when former Panama City Police Officer Jordan Hoffman encountered them.

Hoffman, who later left law enforcement to become a full-time pastor, testified he was on “proactive” community patrol that night when he spotted the men. He said he was walking to the car to see what was going on, and the closer he got the stronger the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

Prosecutor Nicole Reed shows jurors the gun recovered at the scene.

He engaged the men, still in the car, in conversation about the marijuana smell. Testimony showed the defendant handed Hoffman a small baggie of marijuana.

Knowing that he needed to search the car but also concerned about officer safety, Hoffman testified he called for backup while the four men remained in the car and continued talking to them until officer Steven Clayton arrived.

When he attempted to help the defendant out of the car, Hoffman testified, the defendant kept reaching for his back pocket, telling the officer to “chill out.”

“He said, ‘I put my cellphone in my pocket, don’t worry about it’,” Hoffman testified. “At that point I see a gun and he’s bringing it up and around.”

Hoffman testified he was in immediate fear for his life and took the defendant down, while at the same time hearing a “thud” that he believed to be the gun hitting the ground. Another backup officer arrived and found and secured the pistol, which was within reach of where Hoffman was holding the defendant to the ground.

The gun found at the scene is shown on an overhead projector during testimony.

The defendant had been released from prison in August, 2019, after serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery in Jackson County.  The State is seeking to have the defendant sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender and Prison Rerelease Offender, both of which call for enhanced penalties.

Basford thanked the Panama City Police Department for its handling of the case and former officer Hoffman for his actions that night.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@14sa.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.