Whitaker officer to face perjury trial

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A suspended Whitaker police officer was held for trial Monday on a perjury charge stemming from a statement he made about the events surrounding an investigation last year.

Officer William Davis, 35, also had been charged with two misdemeanor counts each of official oppression, false swearing and unsworn falsification to authorities. After a nearly four-hour preliminary hearing, District Judge Richard Opiela withdrew one of each count but held the rest for trial.

The charges were filed in April following an Allegheny County district attorney's office investigation.

Officer Davis is accused of making false statements in two search warrant affidavits.

In one dated July 6 requesting to search a woman's Frank Street home, he detailed the arrest of a man named Travon Fuller two days earlier.

The woman, Michele Lang, and her son were arrested July 6. A month later, at a hearing involving one of Ms. Lang's children, Officer Davis testified that Mr. Fuller was leaving the Lang home with a stolen firearm when he was arrested, according to a district attorney's office criminal complaint.

Whitaker police Officer Patrick Schmidt testified that he was out patrolling that July 4 with Officer Davis. He said he didn't see anyone walking out of the Frank Street home that day before the officers pulled over Mr. Fuller and found a stolen gun -- but also that he didn't have a clear view of the house from where the police car was positioned at one point.

Prosecutors said Officer Davis perjured himself because the statement he made in court contradicted both Officer Schmidt's account and Officer Davis' own criminal complaint for Mr. Fuller's arrest.

"It's the only time the defendant can tie a firearm to the house is through a lie," assistant district attorney Jonathan Fodi said.

Defense attorney William Difenderfer said the key aspect of probable cause in searching Ms. Lang's home was, in his opinion, a confidential informant who had purchased drugs at the Lang home, not Mr. Fuller's arrest.

This marks the second set of charges related to Officer Davis' actions as a police officer. He was charged last fall after an investigator with the Allegheny County district attorney's office said he broke a woman's window during a traffic stop and then threatened to file charges if she didn't pay to fix the gun he used to do it.

In that case, he is awaiting trial on official oppression, making a false statement and related offenses.

The district attorney's office plans to merge the cases for trial, spokesman Mike Manko said.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


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