A Fort Worth police officer who was captured on video punching a man in the face in a hospital lobby was found guilty of aggravated perjury on Wednesday.
Officer Jon Romer had been on restricted duty and stripped of his gun and badge since he was charged in connection with the incident at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in November 2016. He was fired soon after the verdict.
"The Fort Worth Police Department remains committed to operating in a clear and transparent manner holding all employees accountable for their actions," the department said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "We respect the jury’s decision and have confidence in the due process of the criminal justice system."
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In convicting Romer, the jury found aggravated circumstances were involved, meaning Romer faces mandatory prison time.
He was convicted of lying to a grand jury about the incident -- which was caught on officers’ body cameras -- with then 20-year old Henry Newson.
Newson said sitting through the trial was comparable to reliving what happened three years ago.
"It messes with you to go back to that place. That was a hard time in my life," he said. "It [trial] was kind of hard but I got through it with the help of them, my mom and the support behind me. I got through it. For the most part, they kept me up. I’ve kind of been down about it, but they kind of made sure I didn’t go off the edge."
Newson was arrested for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest but the charges were later dropped. He testified in the trial that Romer had no reason to touch him. Newson had just been discharged from the hospital and was waiting for his mother to pick him up, he said.
Romer was also charged with official oppression, but this trial focused solely on the perjury charge. The incident caught on camera will be a separate trial.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office recused itself from the case and appointed a special prosecutor, Russell Wilson.
"It was an important statement for Tarrant County and state of Texas to let our officers know that we have an expectation of honesty, especially when it regards something as a serious as the use of force," Wilson said, referring to the guilty verdict. "What happened to Mr. Newson was a tragedy. It’s a tragedy not only if you are a citizen of Tarrant County but also a citizen of Texas, and we think that’s what the verdict says."
Sentencing was initially scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, but it is now expected to happen early next year in order for a pre-sentencing report to be conducted.
Wilson said sentencing could technically proceed without a report, but this was a 'prudent' path forward.
"One of the reasons that you wait is because a pre-sentence report can provide additional information that is not necessarily solicited during testimony in court," he explained.
Attorneys for Romer did not have a comment following Wednesday's hearing.