A former Pittsburgh police sergeant was found not guilty Tuesday in connection with an altercation with his former girlfriend in December.
Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty ruled that Eugene Hlavac was not guilty of simple assault in the incident that left Lauren Maughan, with whom he has a son, with a partially dislocated jaw.
Mr. Hlavac, 43, wiped away tears as he testified in his own defense in the nonjury trial about the close relationship he has with his 4-year-old son, Austin, who was at the center of the Dec. 18 dispute.
The couple, who were separated at the time, argued because Ms. Maughan was about 25 minutes late picking up Austin at his father's Squirrel Hill residence.
A neighbor testified Monday at the start of the trial that she saw the couple arguing, then saw Ms. Maughan attack Mr. Hlavac from behind as he walked to his car.
Mr. Hlavac testified that she was injured when he turned to defend himself.
After the scuffle, the couple went inside Mr. Hlavac's residence, and they were conversing calmly when she pointed out the pain in her jaw, Mr. Hlavac said. Both he and Ms. Maughan said that the violence went no farther after she was struck on the left side of her face.
They were civil with each other after he accompanied her to a hospital emergency room, he said.
While awaiting treatment, Mr. Hlavac said that Ms. Maughan, who is 20 years younger than he is, was aware that hospital personnel might be suspicious of her injury. She quipped that she could tell them she fell down the stairs, he testified.
Ms. Maughan, who testified on Monday, gave a different account of events. She said she became angry after Mr. Hlavac slammed the car door after putting Austin in the car.
She got out of the vehicle and said: "I'm tired of the way you talk to me. I'm tired of the way you treat me," she said.
Then, Ms. Maughan continued, Mr. Hlavac, who was in his police uniform, slapped her across the left side of her face.
Mr. Hlavac was fired by the city after an internal investigation following the Dec. 18 incident.
Jim McKinnon: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1939.