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The Villages
Saturday, May 8, 2021

Villager escapes prosecution in dispute over parking in villa community

James William Coats

A Villager will escape prosecution in a dispute over parking in his villa community.

The prosecutor’s office has announced that a charge of improper exhibition of a firearm has been dropped against 77-year-old James William Coats, who lives in the La Cresenta Villas in the Village of Santiago. He had originally been arrested April 11, 2020 on a felony charge of aggravated assault. The charge was later lowered to a misdemeanor.

Residents of La Cresenta Villas had previously complained to the Community Development District 2 Board of Supervisors about a large truck which they claimed had been a problem for a year. They said the oversized work truck was hogging a spot in the villas where parking is hard to find.

This large truck was at the center of a parking dispute at the La Cresenta Villas.

Attorney J. Scott Herman, who represented Coats, said his client was at home when he witnessed an argument between the truck’s owner and a neighbor lady. Coats spoke to the truck’s owner in an attempt to stand up for the neighbor lady. The truck’s owner got angry and moved the truck so that it was blocking Coats’ driveway, Herman said. Coats retrieved a claw hammer from this garage, in self defense. The truck’s owner lifted his shirt and exposed a pistol.

Herman said he was prepared to call six witnesses from the neighborhood who were ready to testify that Coats, who was on his own property, was acting in self defense. There was also Ring doorbell surveillance footage to back up the potential testimony. Faced with the evidence, the prosecutor’s office opted to drop the case.

“Justice was served,” Herman said.

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