A Texas police officer is on trial after video showed him punching and choking a man in a hospital lobby.
Jon Preston Romer Jr. allegedly became violent with Henry Newsom in the lobby of the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth on November 5, 2016, and is now on trial in State District Judge David Hagerman’s court, facing an aggravated perjury charge for allegedly lying to investigators and the grand jury, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.
Romer faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted, the Star Telegram reports.
Newsom, 20, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass on the day of the incident, but those charges were dismissed in March 2017 at prosecutorial discretion, the Star Telegram reports.
Romer reportedly approached Newson in the hospital lobby and put his hand on his chest and shoulder to escort him out of the building after hospital security asked for police assistance.
Up to that point, Newson hadn’t broken any laws that Sgt. Scott Sykes, who testified Thursday (Dec. 5) on behalf of Romer, could see from reviewing the bodycam video footage of the incident, the Star Telegram reports.
Still, Sykes called the escort hold Romer placed on Newson a low-level control technique, the Star Telegram reports.
“Our goal is to use the least amount of force needed,” Sykes said, according to the Star Telegram.
While in the escort hold, Newson was allegedly told to get off the phone by Romer, who said, “Let’s go.” But when Newson pivoted toward Romer and tensed his muscles, that’s when Skyes said he would call that action an active resistance, the Star Telegram reports.
“I could articulate a criminal trespass,” Sykes testified, according to the Star Telegram.
Fort Worth Police Capt. Shawn Stone echoed Sykes’ testimony, saying, “Mr. Newson pivoted 180 degrees and planted his feet firmly and was in a position to strike. All indications of active resistance,” the Star Telegram reports.
Stone also said that Romer punching Newson in the face and punching to the midsection that Romer and two hospital security officers delivered while Newson was on the ground were intermediate uses of force, the Star Telegram reports.
Sherry Kelly, the detective investigating the case, who reviewed the video, said she never heard Romer tell Newson that he needed to leave the premises before Romer punched Newson in the face and midsection and pinned him to the ground, the Star Telegram reports.
Kelly also said she never heard Romer tell Newson that he was under arrest before hitting him, the Star Telegram reports.
If it is proven that Romer lied to investigators and the grand jury about the arrest of Newson, he could be found guilty of the charges he’s facing, according to prosecutors, the Star Telegram reports.
In 2011, Romer allegedly killed a Black man in front of his children.
Romer had pulled Charal Thomas over and said he “feared for his life” after Thomas allegedly rolled up his car window, trapping Romer’s arm.
Romer was never indicted, NewsOne reports.
Testimony in the current trial is expected to resume Tuesday (Dec. 10), the Star Telegram reports.