NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Convicted Lincoln Police Officer Edward Krawetz was a no-show on the first day of an administrative hearing to determine if he can continue to wear a badge.
The 12-year veteran of the force is fighting to keep his job after he was convicted of felony assault in March. The case is best known for video from a security camera at Twin River in Lincoln showing Krawetz kicking a handcuffed woman to the head.
Under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, a three-member panel of police officers will decide his professional fate after what is expected to be three days of hearings.
One panelist was chosen by Krawetz, a second by the Lincoln police chief and the third was agreed to by the two sides. The 'neutral' officer was a North Providence policeman, which is why the hearing was set in that town.
Opening arguments from both sides were heard on Wednesday and will be followed by testimony on Aug. 21 and 22. A decision is expected within 60 days from the start of the proceedings.
Attorney Vincent Ragosta represents the town of Lincoln for the hearing. He declined to go into details about what happened behind closed doors but said Krawetz faces six administrative counts.
“The final charge is conviction of a felony involving conduct which amounts to moral turpitude or which shocks the conscience of a reasonable person,” Ragosta said.
The hearing could be costly to taxpayers. Legal fees – including from Ragosta – are mounting, plus the cost of the proceeding itself, which includes bundles of documents, a stenographer and paying the panelists who are on the clock during the proceedings.
Ragosta said as a 12-year veteran of the Lincoln police department, Krawetz will be eligible to receive a pension when he reaches retirement age.
Krawetz’s attorney – Gary Gentile of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers – declined to comment after leaving the hearing.
Ragosta said it is unclear if Krawetz will appear to testify on his own behalf at future proceedings but he has that right.
“He doesn’t have to be here,” Ragosta said. “He, through his attorney waived his right to be present here today.”
A Twin River surveillance camera recorded Krawetz kicking Donna Levesque, who was sitting on a curb near the officer at the time. Levesque was told to leave the slot parlor for unruly behavior right before the May 31, 2009 kick to the head.
Ragosta said they have requested Levesque to testify at the Bill of Rights hearing but that have not gotten response yet from her.
Levesque’s attorney Thomas Briody declined to comment when reached by phone as to whether she would appear at the proceedings.
During his January bench trial, Krawetz claimed self-defense, telling the court that he reacted to Levesque kicking his shin area. He was convicted of felony battery by Judge Edward Clifton who decided against jail time. Krawetz was ordered to undergo counseling and given a 10 year suspended sentence.
Krawetz' attorney in the criminal case, John Harwood, filed an appeal after the conviction and told Target 12 the appeals process could take years.
Krawetz was also convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2001 after an off duty confrontation with a man who was jogging in Cumberland. He was suspended from the police force for 30 days following that conviction and Eyewitness News learned that town officials recommended to the police chief at the time that Krawetz should be fired.
Krawetz has been suspended without pay but still receives health benefits and “other benefits” according to Ragosta.
Krawetz's Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights tribunal was scheduled to start on Wednesday, June 27 in North Providence. The termination case was to be heard by 3 police officers. One was chosen by Krawetz, a second by the Lincoln police chief and the third was agreed to by the two sides. The 'neutral' officer was a North Providence policeman, which is why the hearing was set in that town.