PROVIDENCE — On a day when Lincoln Patrolman Edward M. Krawetz took the stand and claimed his kick to the head of a sitting, handcuffed woman was made in self-defense, both his lawyer and the prosecutor told Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton they would be ready for closing arguments this morning.
Attorney John Harwood had made a motion after the defense rested Tuesday afternoon to dismiss the case, but Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine explained to the judge he saw no reason why it should be. Those arguments will be included in their closing remarks.
Krawetz, who was suspended from the Lincoln force shortly after the night of the incident — May 31, 2009 — has been on trial since last week. A surveillance video outside a Twin River employees' entrance showed the officer kick Donna Levesque, 44, of Uxbridge in the head after police had arrested her for disorderly conduct.
Krawetz has been charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon, that being his shod foot. He struck her with what he called a “snap kick” about two tenths of a second after she swung her leg, he said, at what he believed to be his knee.
During direct questioning, the officer claimed he and fellow Patrolman Russell Enos had responded to a second-floor pub/restaurant at about 6:35 p.m. that May night for a report of an intoxicated woman. He explained to Harwood that the woman had been belligerent and cussed at both officers, as well as Twin River Security Capt. Joseph Gleckman, numerous times.
“I went to grab her by her arm, and she slapped my left arm away,” Krawetz, 47, stated. “She was dragging her feet and still swearing at us.”
He stated as the officers attempted to escort her to the second-floor elevator, he and Enos decided to take her to the floor to handcuff her, Krawetz said, because when they tried to lift her, she would sit back down.
Krawetz admitted he and Enos took her outside, and that Krawetz had sat her down, handcuffed, on a curb “just trying to keep her calm.” He said she kept saying, “(Bleep) you. I didn't do anything. He also noted that Gleckman had asked him to check her purse for identification, as Gleckman wanted her to pursue an “undesirable person” warning.
Krawetz then indicated as he shuffled through her purse, she said, “Get out of my (bleeping) purse.”
When asked if he responded, Krawetz said, “No.”
In addition, Harwood asked him if Levesque had landed with her kick, and the officer said it hit his shin.
“What did you do immediately after?” Harwood queried, and Krawetz said, “I raised my leg up to block her kick.” He also stated he kicked her back to “defend myself.”
Harwood: “Did you say anything to her?”
Krawetz: “Don't kick me. Get away from me.”
The officer mentioned he immediately went back to reading Levesque's identification information, and Enos initiated contact with her. He stated he could hear them both talking, that she was “conscious and alert, swearing and crying” and didn't request any medical attention.
During cross-examination, Regine inquired if Krawetz remembered the woman being belligerent and cussing “for eight minutes straight” at him and Enos, and he replied, “Correct.”
But when the prosecutor asked if he had told the defense's “use of force” expert witness, Dr. Frank Gallo, about being kicked by Levesque during two telephone conversations they had in August 2011, he said, “I believe so.”
(Gallo had interviewed Krawetz twice that month, as Harwood had asked the officer to write a personal statement for him). Krawetz stated he had, in fact, intended to kick Levesque, but thought it had landed on her left arm/back area. He revealed he wasn't wearing a boot, but a soft leather shoe.”
He also indicated he didn't write anything about the kick in his initial police narrative the night of the incident, but did so the following day, June 1, in his modified version. He claimed he did that after Sgt. Jack McRoberts told him he had kicked her in the head, not the left arm/back area.
Regine inquired of Krawetz “When did you think you should change (his use of force statement)?” and he responded, “When I went home and thought things over.”
Earlier Tuesday, Gallo, who was retained by Harwood as a use of force expert, maintained Krawetz's kick to Levesque had been “objectively reasonable.” He also indicated that police officers do make mistakes as human beings because they make split-second judgments, and Krawetz had made a performance error during his responding kick.
“They can make mistakes such as getting too close to people (who have been arrested) … or make errors in their reporting,” Gallo stated.
Regine then asked Gallo if he thought the kick could have been retaliatory in nature; Gallo said he had no evidence to indicate such.
“Would you consider getting too close to Miss Levesque a mistake?” Regine asked, and Gallo offered, “Yes.”
At that point, Regine argued that Krawetz, according to the surveillance tape, had stood within a step of Levesque for approximately two minutes and 45 seconds, and had failed to utilize the “reactionary gap” that police officers are taught to employ. That gap is about four to six feet.
After the lunch recess, Regine told Clifton he believed Gallo's testimony, that regarding the personal statement he had received from Krawetz, should be struck from the record.
He did so because it didn't correlate with Krawetz' testimony.
Harwood immediately made a motion that Clifton strike from the record the testimony of Regine's expert witness, State Police Sgt. Daniel C. Cusumano, because it didn't coincide with a Supreme Court opinion in the 1989 case of Graham v. Conner.
In that opinion, justices stated that police use of force should be judged on five tests, including totality of the circumstances, subjective, objective, hindsight and balancing.
Clifton agreed that a portion of Gallo's testimony be struck from the record, but Cusumano's would remain. Cusumano had said, when called to the stand on Jan. 6, he considered Krawetz' kick “excessive.”
Just before recessing for the day, Clifton noted he would not render an immediate ruling on the case, but would first reexamine the exhibits provided by both sides.