The man allegedly armed with a rifle when the Oak Ridge Police Department responded to a family disturbance on Norton Road in January has pleaded guilty to simple assault.
Robert E. Foreman III, 37, had initially been charged with aggravated assault.
A warrant filed by Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Chris Luethge said police responded to the family disturbance at a home on Norton Road at about 6:19 p.m. Thursday, January 12. Luethge and the victim, ORPD Officer Daniel Freytag, were approaching the front door of the home when Freytag said, “He’s got a rifle,” according to the warrants.
“Officer Freytag stated, through the front door, he saw the defendant, Robert E. Foreman III, who shouted at him angrily and ran into the bedroom and returned with a rifle,” the warrant said. “He stated that the defendant stood in the front door, armed with the rifle, and racked the bolt of the rifle and demanded: ‘Get off my property.'”
Fearing for his life, Freytag began retreating from the front door, seeking cover, “believing he was in immediate danger from the defendant,” the warrant said.
The Oak Ridge Police Department quickly set up a perimeter around the Norton Road home and temporarily closed New York Avenue between Utah Avenue and Outer Drive as officers sought to negotiate with Foreman. Neighborhood residents were asked to stay inside.
Foreman peacefully surrendered to police at about 8 p.m., and he was charged with aggravated assault, a Class C felony.
He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor, on January 24. He was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, with a credit of six days and the rest to be served on supervised probation.
A mental health evaluation was ordered for Foreman, according to court records and staff. He is to obtain an alcohol and drug evaluation, and follow all recommendations.
The rifle was to be returned to its owner, Foreman’s father Raymond Sisson, and Foreman can’t own or possess a weapon unless specifically approved by the court (Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge).
In two phone interviews with Oak Ridge Today in January and February, Sisson said the family disturbance involving his son was a simple husband-and-wife argument that got out of hand, and there was no need for a SWAT team to respond. Everyone is regretful, Sisson said, and he thinks his son just got overwhelmed and scared.
Sisson said he recognizes that the police have a job to do and Foreman made a mistake by telling officers to get off his property, but he thinks police escalated the situation. Although he wasn’t there, Sisson said he tried to communicate with Foreman by phone, and he disputed some of the information released by the city and police after the January standoff. For example, he said the young eight-year-old girl who was inside the home that night is Foreman’s daughter and his granddaughter, and she was not a hostage. Also, Foreman didn’t barricade himself inside the house, Sisson said. Instead, Foreman had simply locked the door after his wife left the house, and he refused to unlock it, Sisson said. He said the police didn’t have a legal right to knock down the door.
“He simply wouldn’t come to the door,” Sisson said of his son, who was inside the home with police set up on a perimeter outside. “He was literally scared to go to his own door.”
Foreman came to the door after he was able to talk to an officer, Sisson said.
“He just wanted some assurances,” he said.
Asked about Sisson’s comments, Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said in February: “I stand by the officers’ versions of what occurred; they were the ones who were on scene and faced immediate and imminent threats from Mr. Foreman throughout the duration of this incident. I commend them and our negotiators for their efforts, which ultimately resulted in a peaceful solution with no harm to Mr. Foreman, his daughter, innocent civilians, or any ORPD personnel. I also commend Mr. Foreman for his wise decision to disarm and surrender in the manner in which he did.”
It was actually the second peaceful resolution in a police response that day. Just before the Norton Road disturbance, police helped locate a missing 12-year-old boy. The two cases were not related.
Officers were glad both incidents ended well. Akagi said he was “proud of the men and women who worked diligently” to peacefully resolve the dangerous situation on Norton Road and rescue the girl without incident.
“Our training and practice prepared us for success tonight,” Akagi said after the Norton Road incident was resolved in January. “This is what we do, and the courage and professionalism displayed by our officers this evening is a perfect example of what they stand for and how they serve this community every day.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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