Whitaker police officer held for trial on official oppression, false statement charges
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A suspended Whitaker police officer will stand trial in January on charges that he used his gun to break a driver's window during a traffic stop and threatened charges unless she paid to fix his damaged gun.
William S. Davis, 35, is charged with official oppression, making a false statement, criminal mischief and a criminal attempt related to a threat in connection with a June 27 traffic stop.
Officer Davis is scheduled for trial Jan. 24 following a preliminary hearing before District Judge Thomas P. Caulfield on Wednesday morning in Forest Hills.
Officer Davis told investigators he stopped 28-year-old Danielle Stillwell Newlon of Jefferson Hills as she turned left onto Route 837 from the Rankin Bridge because she did not use a turn signal and had tinted windows on her BMW, which had West Virginia plates.
Officer Davis also told authorities he had been looking for a sedan involved in drug activity that resembled her vehicle.
Ms. Newlon testified Wednesday that she drove away, fearful that Officer Davis, dressed in street clothes and driving an unmarked car with a police siren, was not an officer.
"She did what I hope any young female -- or male, for that matter -- would do," her attorney, Jonathan Fodi, said.
Officer Davis maintains he was wearing his badge, which West Mifflin patrolman Ryan Sabol, who responded to a second traffic stop, said he observed.
At the second traffic stop, Officer Davis broke out Ms. Newlon's driver's side front window after she rolled down the back window by mistake, she testified.
Later, at the station, Ms. Newlon said Officer Davis gave her two choices: accept charges for fleeing and eluding, or sign a statement accepting responsibility and agree to pay for damage to his firearm, she testified.
She testified that Officer Davis seemed sympathetic to concerns that charges would tarnish her career and that she agreed to the latter.
Officer Davis' attorney, Daniel J. Konieczka Jr., said it was "pure speculation that [Officer Davis] was acting in bad faith."
Whitaker police Chief John Vargo, who testified in Officer Davis' defense, said he consulted with Officer Davis by phone that day in June and told him it would not be illegal to make that deal but that the decision was up to him.
Ms. Newlon said phone calls and text messages from Officer Davis received after the accident about the damaged gun made her uncomfortable. Officer Davis filed charges against Ms. Newlon when she alerted him that she had contacted the district attorney's office about the incident.
Whitaker council voted to suspend Officer Davis from the force without pay, Chief Vargo said. Officer Davis was also suspended for cause and without pay for 10 business days after charges were filed toward the end of October, the chief said.
Ms. Newlon, district attorney's office Detective Lyle Graber and Patrolman Sabol testified for the prosecution.
First Published December 5, 2012 1:34 pm