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Trial of accused officer continued to Monday

January 6, 2012

PROVIDENCE – John Harwood, the attorney for the Lincoln police officer accused of kicking a seated, handcuffed woman in the head outside the Twin River casino on May 31, 2009, indicated in Superior Court on Friday he wanted to enlist the expertise of Dr. Frank Gallo as part of his client's defense.
Gallo, renowned statewide for his expertise on “use of force,” is an instructor for various law enforcement agencies around the region.
That plan fell by the wayside, at least temporarily, when Assistant Attorney General and prosecutor Stephen Regine objected to Gallo's testimony that he had met with Lincoln Patrolman Edward M. Krawetz after the alleged assault and used that information to form an opinion regarding the case.
Following a sidebar between Harwood and Regine, Judge Edward C. Clifton – the man who will decide Krawetz' fate after he waived his right to a jury trial back on Tuesday – told Gallo to leave the courtroom.
Regine then explained he had objected because he didn't have access to the statement Gallo had gleaned from the suspect.
“(The state) submits that if that document was reviewed and destroyed by the witness (Gallo) … it wouldn't allow us (access to that information),” Regine said. “A mystery document, what is it? It appears now to be different” from evidence he already owns.
Harwood promised he would scour his files to locate that aforementioned document, and Clifton ordered both Harwood and Gallo to bring that personal statement to court on Monday. That's when the judge recessed for the weekend.
Earlier in the day, the prosecution rested its case against Krawetz, who is slated to testify on his own behalf Monday.
Krawetz, whom the Lincoln Police Department suspended following the incident, has been accused of felony assault with a deadly weapon – in this case, a shod foot – against Donna Levesque, 44, of Uxbridge, Mass. The alleged assault occurred at approximately 6:50 that May evening.
A DVD of the incident was shown in court Wednesday, exhibiting Levesque sitting on a curb, handcuffed outside the casino. Police had escorted her out of a second-floor bar after she allegedly struck a bartender, and she was being held on a disorderly conduct charge.
On Thursday, Krawetz' partner, Patrolman Russell Enos, had stated Levesque had been exhibiting “intoxicated, angry and belligerent behavior,” as she had been cussing at security and town police officers.
The video depicted Krawetz, Enos and Twin River Security Capt. Joseph Gleckman standing near the suspect as they awaited a third LPD officer to arrive to transport Levesque back to headquarters, where she would be charged with disorderly conduct.
As Krawetz began shuffling through her purse to discover her identification, she whipped her left foot and calf around at Krawetz, and he immediately kicked her in what the prosecutor indicated was her head.
During the morning session Friday, Regine developed the knowledge of Rhode Island State Police Sgt. Daniel C. Cusumano, considered an expert on police use of force.
“Did you form an opinion – yes or no – that striking Donna Levesque in her head was within the guidelines of proper use of force?” Regine asked Cusumano, to which the expert responded, “Yes, I formed an opinion, and, no, it was not within the guidelines.”
The witness later testified that “a response has to be in proportion to what (an officer) has seen. It has to be reasonable. His kick to her head was way out of proportion.”
When Regine asked if the defendant had the right not to be kicked again, Cusumano stated, “Yes.”
Regine also queried the state trooper if, during his instruction sessions to recruits and officers, he ever trained them about retreating, and Cusumano said he had.
“As actions take place, there are tactics to make yourself a moving target,” he noted, then later revealed he thought Krawetz' reaction to be excessive, in part because he never left a “reactionary gap,” defined by a four- to six-foot area around an officer so he or she may feel safe around a suspect.
He also mentioned that the Lincoln Police Department has policies and procedures as to use of force, and that he believed Krawetz had violated such.
During cross-examination, however, Harwood asked Cusumano if he believed Lincoln police may use force if it's considered objective and reasonable, and he said, “Correct.”
Harwood stated, “Police officers are making lightning quick decisions, correct?” To which Cusumano again answered, “Correct.”
“You've reviewed many incidents, and you said you're always looking for examples, correct?” And he acquiesced once more. Cusumano also stated it's important to understand the history behind such an incident, what led up to the occurrence.
“How long did it take for Officer Krawetz to kick back?” Harwood asked. “Maybe two-tenths of a second,” the trooper offered.
“So it's fair to say that Officer Krawetz’ reaction was in less than a second?” and Cusumano replied, “Correct.”
“She came to him, he didn't come to her,” Harwood said. “Did you take that into consideration, that some officers react quickly under those circumstances?”
Cusumano once more stated, “Yes.”
On Thursday, town officials stated they are preparing administrative charges against Krawetz, according to Lincoln attorney Vicent Ragosta. He claimed those charges would mirror the criminal charges against Krawetz.

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