PROVIDENCE — Seconds after a Superior Court judge found Lincoln police officer Edward M. Krawetz guilty of felony battery with a dangerous weapon — in this case, his shod foot — the defendant's wife, Lori, wiped away tears.
Several other family members just looked around in disbelief after Justice Edward C. Clifton announced his decision at about 12:10 p.m., Monday.
Krawetz had been on trial for kicking a seated, handcuffed woman in the head after police arrested her for disorderly conduct at Twin River the evening of May 31, 2009. Surveillance videos showed Donna Levesque, 44, of Uxbridge had been intoxicated and belligerent toward police and security officers after being taken into custody.
While on the stand, the accused, who was suspended without pay from the Lincoln Police Department, stated he at first reacted to Levesque's sweeping kick toward his knee with a block, then claimed he kicked her in self-defense.
Clifton called for a pre-sentencing report to be conducted and the findings be brought before him by Monday, March 5. He scheduled Krawetz' sentencing date for Monday, March 19.
A pre-sentencing report consists of an investigator administering an extensive background check on Krawetz.
It will include the interviewing of friends, colleagues and others as to his character. That information then will be presented to the judge prior to sentencing.
Krawetz had waived his right to a jury trial, instead choosing a judge to hear evidence from the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine, and his defense lawyer, John Harwood.
After the ruling, Harwood maintained he couldn't anticipate the severity of the sentence, and wanted to speak immediately with his client.
“I've got to look at the judge's decision in detail, digest it, then take it one step at a time,” he said as he organized his papers inside Courtroom No. 7.
Later, while addressing television reporters outside the courthouse, Harwood stated Krawetz was “obviously disappointed” with the decision, and that Harwood himself respectfully disagreed with the ruling.
“This is a tough day for all police officers,” Harwood said. “Officers make split-second decisions, and (the judge's guilty verdict) puts unreasonable burden on police officers in this state … The penalties are ranging, and I'm going to look at (U.S.) Supreme Court benchmarks” with hope that Clifton will offer a less severe sentence.
When asked if the surveillance tape played a key role in the verdict, Harwood said “Video can help you in some ways or hurt you in some ways. It showed she assaulted him. He was attacked by Miss Levesque, and he responded to it in less than a half-second … We believe we presented a defense with a strong basis in law, as in the case of Graham v. Connor. The judge obviously didn't think so.”
During his lengthy soliloquy regarding the trial, Clifton described his feelings about the testimonies issued by casino Security Capt. Joseph Gleckman; Patrolman Russell Enos (who was with Krawetz at the casino that night); Rhode Island State Police Sgt. Daniel Cusumano, the prosecution's expert witness on police use of force; Dr. Frank Gallo, the defense's such expert; and Krawetz himself.
Clifton explained he found Gallo's testimony “inconsistent,” due to the fact he didn't utilize Krawetz' initial incident report on May 31, 2009 but instead the modified version he wrote the following day, as well as other assessments of the kick.
Clifton also revealed he paid particular attention to Enos' testimony, as he seemed to be a reasonable officer at the scene, “and had no concern for his own safety … that (Levesque's) legs weren't shackled.”
Later Monday afternoon, Lincoln Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond sent a statement to media that the town would implement Krawetz' termination.
“The incident resulting in the criminal conviction of Officer Edward Krawetz was inexcusable, and violates the stringent professional standards by which all officers of the Lincoln Police Department are held,” he wrote. “The town … is satisfied that justice was served in a criminal conviction in this matter.
“The (LPD) is proud of those officers (who) provided honorable and essential testimony leading to the successful prosecution of this matter,” he added. “(If) this criminal conviction is appealed, Officer Krawetz will remain on unpaid suspension, and the town will continue to seek his termination.
“I remain confident that the excellent reputation of the dedicated, honest and hard-working men and women of the (LPD) will overcome this unfortunate incident.”