PROVIDENCE – A “use of force” expert for the defense of suspended Lincoln patrol officer Edward Krawetz, who is on trial for felony assault with a deadly weapon after kicking a handcuffed woman at Twin River, took the stand in Superior Court for a second day of testimony on Monday.
Dr. Frank Gallo told defense attorney John Harwood that he had utilized several Lincoln Police, State Police and casino security reports in formulating and writing his opinion of Krawetz' actions back on May 31, 2009. He also stated he had spoken with the accused by phone on Aug. 14 and 16, 2011, and called Krawetz' use of force “objectively reasonable.”
Krawetz is currently on trial after video clips showed him using the instep of his shod foot to kick Donna Levesque, 44, of Uxbridge in the head, that an instant after she had used her right leg to make a sweeping motion at the officer. She had done so apparently because Krawetz was attempting to learn the woman's identity by shuffling through her purse.
Krawetz had been one of several LPD personnel working uniformed details on the night in question.
Levesque had been arrested for disorderly conduct while in a second-floor bar, and later pleaded guilty to the offense.
Gallo explained to Harwood that he had utilized a test entitled “the totality of circumstances” in his conclusion that Krawetz' motion was objectively reasonable.
“Not every grab, push or shove indicates criminality on the part of a police officer,” stated Gallo, who testified he had retired as an officer from the Cranston Police Department in 2001, but has been studying use of force incidents for years, as well as conducted dozens of seminars on such.
“I also looked at, proportionately, did Officer Krawetz' behavior coincide with Miss Levesque's violation of the law,” he added. In totality of circumstances, “I particularly looked at the severity of the crime (by Levesque); is the suspect evading arrest or resisting arrest, and is the suspect capable of doing harm to people in the vicinity?”
He revealed he believed so. In addition, he testified he had taught Krawetz use of force/defensive tactics at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy in 2001, and the latter had passed all physical and written exams.
“I asked (Officer Krawetz) if he had in-service training at the (Lincoln Police) department, generally speaking, since he had been on the job, and he said he received infrequent training,” Gallo offered. “I asked him if he had been evaluated as to his training. He didn't recall any written tests … on how to use force.”
During cross-examination, prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine claimed if Gallo had reached a decision that it was an objectively reasonable response, then “Why did Mr. Harwood mention the defendant hadn't received proper training?”
Regine's queries to Gallo focused on why Krawetz didn't address the kick in his initial police report, or narrative, on the night of May 31, 2009, but he had when it was modified the following afternoon at 4:51 p.m. Likewise, the officer indicated he had kicked Levesque in the left arm and back area, not the head as video exhibited.
“Do you agree with me that someone's memory immediately after an event or much later could affect their opinions?” Regine asked, to which Gallo replied, “Yes.”
Regine indicated Krawetz had mentioned in his personal statement to Gallo that he kicked her in the head, not the June 1 police report. He asked Gallo if he had audio-taped Krawetz' conversation, but that he hadn't thought about it at the time.
He continued to try to poke holes in Gallo's testimony during the afternoon session, stating he should have kept track of such interviews.
“At any point did you think it important to know the exact time (the personal statement) was created?” Regine asked, and Gallo answered, “No.”
“Does he say in that statement why he kicked (Levesque),” he queried; Gallo answered by saying Levesque had kicked him in the left leg, so “I immediately snap-kicked her so she wouldn't kick me again.”
Regine's response: “In your report, didn't he tell you he kicked her to prevent 'serious bodily injury' from happening to him?” And Gallo explained, “He told me when her leg was coming at him to kick him, he thought she was trying to kick him in the knee. He said he was trying to unbalance her and create some space (between them).”
Not long after, Regine called Gallo's personal document from Krawetz, which Gallo claimed was unsolicited and just came with the other reports, “a running creation.
“On Aug. 14, 2009, did the defendant tell you he kicked her in the left part of the body?” Regine asked, and Gallo said, “Yes.”
Regine: “But that wasn't correct, was it?”
“I asked him the intention of the kick, and (Krawetz) said it was to the upper left part of the body,” Gallo responded.
Regine found it surprising Gallo hadn't seen a photo of the shoes worn by Krawetz at the time of the kick, which took place while Levesque sat handcuffed on a curb outside one of the entrances as police awaited a cruiser to transport her to headquarters.
When Regine exhibited a video clip of the incident, he asked Gallo if the reason for the kick was to “push her over on her right side to create distance?” and Gallo replied, “Yes – in part.”
“Then you'd agree with me that he didn't step backward, did he?” Regine queried. “No, he did not,” Gallo said.
“You'd agree there's sufficient room (to the back and side for Krawetz to step away)?”
Gallo said, “Yes, I agree.”
Regine: “But it was still a reasonable performance error?”
Gallo's testimony will continue this morning, and Krawetz is expected to take the stand sometime afterward.