Cliff Finch Avoids Jail Time for Shootout with Police

November 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Clifford Finch was sentenced in connection with a wild chase and shootout with Fresno Police Officers. The judge could have sentenced Finch to up to 14 years in prison. Finch accepted a plea deal last month where he pled no contest to a felony assault charge. His family and friends filled a court room.Olympic snow-boarder Andy Finch wheeled his father Clifford into the courtroom to be sentenced by Judge Rosendo Pena. Clifford's wife asked for mercy saying her husband suffered a mental breakdown. The man led police on a high speed chase more than two years ago. Officers ended up shooting the 60-year old numerous times, leaving him wheelchair bound. Doctors reviewed Finch and determine he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder relating to his Vietnam War experience. Clifford said, "Here, it was a mental disorder that I didn't remember these things. Yet, I was being handled like a criminal and it was very upsetting."

Because of Finch's lack of criminal history and mental health problems, Judge Pena sentenced him to five years probation. Prosecutor Sam Dalesandro wanted a punishment of 7-years in prison. Delsandro said, "Anyone who would fire at police in a high speed chase, driving down Herndon Avenue at high speeds, running red lights is a concern."

After the judge's decision, Finch's family celebrated thankful he returns home with them. Andy said, "I was praying in there ... you gotta be careful what you pray for because a lot of times it comes true. And I was praying for justice and knowing what that meant was scary."

The judge also ordered Clifford to pay nearly $4-thousand in restitution. That money will go to the City of Fresno for damage finch caused during the chase.

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