A Biggs Storm
South County farmer, school trustee convicted of assault on officer
If a liberal is a person who’s never been mugged, then a conservative may well be someone who’s never been arrested in his own driveway by Butte County Sheriff’s deputies trying to run down the origin of a 911 hang-up call.
On the evening of Nov. 8, 2002, Terrell Storm was standing in the driveway of his sprawling Biggs farm, smoking a cigarette and standing next to his Ford F350 flatbed truck.
Storm, who was born and raised in Biggs, lives with his wife Karen and their six kids, some from Karen’s previous marriage. He is a former director of the Butte County Farm Bureau, currently serves as president of the Butte County Cattlemens’ Association and is on the Board of Trustees of the Biggs Unified School District. He’s on the five-member board of directors for the Butte County Resource Conservation District.
Storm’s a big man who sports a thick, droopy moustache, wears a cowboy hat and blue jeans and has a Bush-Cheney sticker and American flag decal on the back of his truck. He uses the word “dang” in just about every other sentence.
In April, Storm was convicted by a jury of battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of a police officer and vandalism. He was placed on three years’ probation, sentenced to 20 days in the Butte County Jail, ordered to not possess a gun for the next 10 years and to pay $232.56 restitution to the Sheriff’s Office for kicking out the rear passenger window of a patrol car.
“It was the day before pheasant season, 7:30 at night,” Storm said, recalling the story in an interview late last month. “We were all getting ready for bed so I was wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a T-shirt and some old top-sider shoes I wear for slippers.”
Storm said when he stepped to the back of his pickup to light his cigarette he saw two sets of headlights coming down the private road that dead-ends in his driveway.
“They’re coming fast, so not knowing what the hell it was I moved up here and climbed into my pickup,” Storm said.
He said he had just purchased a shotgun as a birthday gift for his 7-year-old son. The gun was mounted on the floor of the truck just to the right of the driver’s side of the truck’s seat. He said one of the deputies would later testify in court that he had never seen a shotgun carried in that position before.
“Everybody I know carries their gun right there. It was unloaded, it was legal.”
Storm said he waited for the cars to arrive. “I get a lot of trespassers, a lot of goofy people out here.”
He said the cars pulled up and he waited to see who it was before he presented himself.
“Pretty quick here comes this little girl deputy and she goes trotting by here at a pretty rapid clip. That’s the first time I realize I have deputies because she is wearing a uniform.”
She headed to the house. Storm said he leaned over and lowered the power window on the passenger side of this truck, surprising the second deputy.
“I said ‘is there anything I can help you with?'” I was perfectly pleasant.”
He said the deputy told him they’d gotten a hang-up 911 call, which almost always means domestic violence. Storm told him it didn’t come from him. He said the deputy shined a light in the cab and saw the shotgun, which he said made him very nervous. Storm was ordered to put his hands on the steering wheel of his truck.
“I’m still trying to realize what was going on and I didn’t react fast enough to suit him,” Storm said.
The deputy, Storm said, drew his gun and Storm told him he was being silly, which angered the deputy. The female deputy was at the house asking Karen for the address. The deputies were looking for an address on Haselbusch Lane. One deputy’s report said 793, the others was 973. Storm lives at 1000 Haselbusch. There are no address numbers on the houses in the neighborhood.
One thing led to another, expletives were exchanged and soon the deputies had Storm on the ground trying to handcuff him.
“I was polite until they put their hands on me,” Storm said. “After that things changed.”
The female deputy, Jamie Windsor, pepper-sprayed Storm’s face to get him under control. He continued to resist as he was placed in the back seat of one of the patrol cars. Storm said he could not breathe and asked the other deputy, Daniel Angel, to roll down the rear window. Angel did, but only a few inches, said Storm, who, gasping for air, decided to kick out the window.
In his report, Angel said because of the combination of the remote location, lack of light and type of call he “found it alarming to find a male adult sitting in a darkened truck in his boxers with a gun.” He also said he smelled alcohol, but a blood-alcohol test conducted later on Storm showed none in his system.
The case went to court a year and a half later because Windsor, a military reservist, was called to duty in Iraq for a year. She came home about a week before the trial.
Storm is scheduled to do his jail time next month, but has decided to appeal the conviction. He’s hired attorney Dennis Latimer, who told the News & Review he has not studied the case enough to comment.
“I was on my own property minding my own business,” Storm said. “I don’t know why they needed to lay me on the ground and handcuff me just to find out they were at the wrong address.”
As for the call, it came out in court that it may well have been a false call triggered by the stormy weather, which can play havoc with the 911 system.