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DA clears Springettsbury Township Officers in brutality case

Updated: Thursday, September 5 2013, 06:15 PM CDT
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan 

SPRINGETTSBURY -- The York County District Attorney has cleared two Springettsbury Township Police Officers of any wrong-doing for two brutality lawsuits. 

In March, the department faced federal lawsuits, claiming officers brutally beat two people in two different situations. The lawyer who filed the suits released video of the reported attacks. 

According to Springettsbury Township Police Chief, Thomas Hyers, following an investigation by the District Attorney's office, no charges will be filed. 

Hyers issued this statement: "I have been informed by York County District Attorney Thomas Kearney, that following an extensive investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police, and a comprehensive review by this office, that no criminal charges will be filed against any Springettsbury Township Officer resulting from the incident from April 2, 2011. As this incident, which was recorded on our in-car video system, is still in civil litigation, we will have no further statement regarding the matter at this time."

Devon M. Jacob, an attorney for one of the victims, issued this statement: "York County District Attorney Tom Kearney knew about the incident involving Debra Williams and the related video soon after the incident occurred and decided not to conduct a criminal investigation until after the civil lawsuit was filed. Therefore, it is not surprising that Mr. Kearney is opting now not to prosecute Officers Chad Moyer or Gregory Hadfield for assaulting Ms. Williams. It is a sad day when the highest ranking law enforcement official decides that in his jurisdiction, a police officer may lawfully punch, choke, and taser, a suicidal female who is handcuffed behind her back with her feet shackled. I fear for the safety of all York County residents; especially the mentally ill and female residents."

In an extensive review of the case, the district attorney says the officers' conduct was justified because the woman they were trying to arrest was out of control before, during, and after police involvement.

The incident happened April 2, 2011, inside and outside of a home at 334 Wynwood Road. The report says Williams is bi-polar and had been drinking that night.

No one could calm her down, including her boyfriend and her family members, according to police. The police admit in the report to hitting her, but the district attorney says the officers were justified and no charges will be filed.

The report says it was one of the officers who turned on the cruiser's dashboard camera because Williams was kicking, screaming, and spitting at them. They wanted the video for their protection. Instead, it created a public outcry, a civil law suit, an internal investigation by the Springettsbury Township police, and an investigation by the York County district attorney.

The detailed report says Williams was drinking and became suicidal and confrontational, threatening to kill herself at her boyfriend's family home.
Family members failed to calm her down, so they called police.

Once police responded and were inside the home, the report says officers put a knee to Williams' back to control her. One family member expressed concern the force was too strong. Others say she was trying to escape when the officer put a knee into her rib.

Outside the home, officers Tasered her in her leg as she continued to struggle to avoid being put into the cruiser. Once inside the vehicle Hadfield is seen hitting her twice. He told investigators that he did this after she continued to kick and spit at his face, saying his hands were the only "tool" readily available to him. He took the next swing to gain control.

The other officer came in from the other side of the car and said he hit her because "he felt a need to defend himself," after she kicked him in the thigh and groin area.

The district attorney's report says an expert from the Pennsylvania State Police training academy reviewed the dash-cam video and determined "the officers acted reasonably under the totality of the circumstances."

In conclusion, Kearney writes, "Both officers in their interviews justify their conduct on legitimate grounds. The facts speak clearly to the fact that Ms. Williams as out of control... The mattter is closed." 

A civil suit remains in the case, however.DA clears Springettsbury Township Officers in brutality case


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