Two Springettsbury Township police officers being sued for alleged brutality have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by York County's district attorney.
One of the two officers also is being sued for alleged brutality in a second case. The arrest that spurred that lawsuit is still under review by state police, at the request of District Attorney Tom Kearney.
On Thursday morning, Kearney released his findings in one of the cases.
Cpl. Greg Hadfield and Officer Chad Moyer -- along with their department, York County and other named defendants -- have been sued by Debra L. Williams, 42, who alleges that during her April 2011 arrest she was punched and grabbed by the neck by the officers.
The lawsuit also alleges the two officers filed false incident reports about the arrest.
Prosecutors previously dropped the charges against her, including aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, after she agreed to plead guilty to simple assault for scratching a person prior to police arresting her, according to her civil attorney, Devon Jacob.
'Insufficient' force: Kearney wrote in his findings:
"(The) issue is whether the force that was used by the officers was unreasonable under the circumstances. With regard to the mental state of the officers, both verbalized their intention was to control an out of control situation and it was never their intent to abuse Ms. Williams. This was confirmed by those observing the conduct and by an expert in the police use of force. Accordingly, the use of force in this matter is insufficient to bring criminal charges. That matter is now closed."
Attorney Chris Ferro, who represents Hadfield, said the evaluation was thorough.
"While I always felt this was a criminal investigation without merit, Mr. Kearney's lengthy and accurate analysis is an appropriate way to conclude this event," he said. "Cpl. Hadfield has and will continue to serve Springettsbury Township with honor and professionalism. I hope this decision will change the view of the few who leapt to conclusions about my client based upon a small snippet of video without context of completeness."
Attorney Brian Perry, who represents Moyer, also praised the findings.
"When you watch the video clip (released by Jacob) ... you get a totally different perspective, compared to watching it from start to finish," Perry said. "I think Officer Moyer showed remarkable restraint in the incident, based on (Williams') behavior and her unwillingness to comply with all of his directives."
'Sad day': Jacob, the attorney representing Williams in her civil lawsuit, indicated he wasn't surprised by Kearney's ruling. He issued this statement in response:
"York County District Attorney Tom Kearney knew about the incident involving Debra Williams and the related video soon after the incident occurred and decided not to conduct a criminal investigation until after the civil lawsuit was filed. Therefore, it is not surprising that Mr. Kearney is opting now not to prosecute Officer Chad Moyer or (Cpl.) Gregory Hadfield for assaulting Ms. Williams.
"It is a sad day when the highest-ranking law enforcement official (in York County) decides that in his jurisdiction, a police officer may lawfully punch, choke and Taser a suicidal female who is handcuffed behind her back with her feet shackled. I fear for the safety of all York County residents, especially the mentally ill and female residents."
Second case: Jacob also represents Steven E. Landis, who has filed suit against Moyer, Officer William Polizzotto Jr. and others.
Landis claims in his lawsuit that while being arrested on a warrant in August 2012, Moyer kneed him in the side, breaking five of his ribs, and that Polizzotto shocked him twice with a stun gun.
In May, a York County judge acquitted Landis of his resisting arrest charge.
Moyer, Polizzotto and Hadfield have been on full paid status but have no patrol responsibilities, meaning they basically are on desk duty, Springettsbury Township Police Chief Tom Hyers has said.
On Thursday, Hyers declined comment on the advice of the department's attorneys, citing the pending lawsuits.
Kearney is out of town and won't be commenting on the matter, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the district attorney's office.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.