FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A man who took a punch from a police officer, faced him Wednesday in a courtroom in Fort Worth.
While testifying he was still nervous to talk about the November 2016 incident, Henry Newson also was confident Officer Jon Romer never told him he was under arrest before hitting him in the face and wrestling him to the ground.
“I was confused, like, what’s going on?” he said. “At the time if he was arresting me, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it because I can’t fight the law.”
Romer is charged with aggravated perjury, accused of lying to a grand jury about what he told Newson before the incident. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and is also accused of lying to investigators about what happened, in a separate indictment.
The trials first two days have focused on several video recordings of the incident at Texas Health Harris Hospital, from security and officer body cameras.
In the recordings, Romer is not heard telling Newson he’s being arrested until after he is on the ground.
A former prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office testified Wednesday she had concern about the use of force after she watched the videos for the first time in March of 2017.
Kate Gardner had been assigned to the trespassing and resisting arrest charges against Newson. She decided not to prosecute the case though, instead showing the video to her supervisor, and calling Romer to inform him of the decision.
“I said that I was not comfortable with this, that I didn’t want to move forward with it, and he was very upset by that,” she said. “It was basically, borderline just kind of getting yelled at on the phone.”
A source close to the case told CBS11 that District Attorney Sharen Wilson informed the city police chief at the time, Joel Fitzgerald, of her office’s concern over Romer’s actions.
It was another year though, March of 2018, before the department placed Romer on restricted duty, with no gun, badge or police authority. That came after a civil lawsuit had been filed as well as criminal charges against Romer.
Fort Worth Police were not immediately able to provide detail Wednesday evening on any actions the department took during that year regarding the case. Fitzgerald also was not immediately available to answer questions about the decision.
Romer’s attorneys have focused their questions on the idea Newson should have known he was being arrested, even if officers didn’t explicitly state that to him.