At that point, said Evans, Blackden told them to take the vest and get out and they did, with Norton handing it to Evans, who kept it until it was handed over to Concord police about an hour later. Blackden denied that he ever gave the group the OK to take the vest.
Although the operator of a store next to Blackden's testified she heard one of the Road Dawgs yell at Blackden: "Step out here and I'll kick your a--," Evans said: "It was just a heat of the moment thing."
Evans said he stepped between that Road Dawg and an upset Blackden and said: "Let's call it a day," adding that he said they weren't going to charge Blackden.
Under questioning by the prosecutor, Evans admitted that the group didn't contact Concord police before the "mission" and none of the men who entered the store were Concord police officers. "You didn't have any business investigating a potential crime," said Webb.
Evans said the group had a reason not to go to Concord police. He said as a police officer, he is used to making decisions every day, such as when he decides whether to charge a person he's stopped on the road.
"We were just trying to solve it without involving the legal part of the system," Evans said. "The mentality was 'Let's give this guy a break.' The court has something better to do."
After the verdict, Evans said: "It got all blown out of proportion." Norton's widow, who was in court to support Evans, had no comment.
Blackden said he thought an admission on the witness stand of theft would be enough for conviction. He said the verdict is an indication of "the power of the police . . . it just emphasizes that the police are a different class of people."
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