Dog rescued

New Castle Police officer Ron Williams carries a dog rescued from a fire on Feb. 11, 2015, at a Winter Avenue home. Williams was terminated from his position on Wednesday.

A former New Castle police officer criminally charged in a civil rights case for allegations of excessive force has been acquitted.

A grand jury in federal District Court's Western District in Pittsburgh found 42-year-old Ronald Williams not guilty of the charge filed against him in a one-count indictment on Sept. 19, 2019. 

Closing arguments were presented and a jury was sent to deliberate Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh, according to information from the office of U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman. A verdict was delivered by 4:20 p.m.

Williams had been fired from his police job for allegations of using excessive force while responding to  domestic disturbance.

The indictment against Williams alleged that on or about April 23, 2018, Williams, on duty as an officer for the New Castle Police Department, willfully deprived an individual of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure by repeatedly slamming the man's face into a floor surface without justification and causing him injury.

The incident was caught on video camera by a person inside the house where Williams was responding to the domestic incident, and the footage of the struggle went viral online at the time.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General conducted an investigation that led to the indictment against Williams in federal district court.

The video of the incident involving Williams, which was posted on Facebook, showed two officers, one of them Williams, trying to arrest Perry Lawry, a resident of that address, as a result of the alleged domestic dispute. The force caused cuts to Lawry’s head that required hospital treatment, according to a police report.

The New Castle police initially had charged Lawry, 52, with assault, resisting arrest and harassment as a result of the incident, for his alleged choking of a youth during the domestic dispute.

The Lawrence County District Attorney’s office dropped the charges against Lawry two months later, exercising prosecutorial discretion. The alleged victim in the case, the youth whom Lawry allegedly assaulted, had reportedly videotaped the scuffle of the two city officers responding to the call.

An internal investigation followed, and Williams was terminated from his job May 16, 2018, for alleged use of excessive force. He had been on the force for 10 years. 

A separate civil lawsuit that Lawry had filed against Williams, the city of New Castle and the New Castle Police Department, claimed Lawry was the subject of excessive force, and that the police had falsely arrested, detained and imprisoned him after the incident and that he suffered physical injury in the process. The civil suit was settled outside of the courtroom by the parties involved.

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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