Trooper from Delco guilty in as­sault of DUI sus­pect

John Sro­movsky punched sus­pected drunk driver in the face

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER» The Penn­syl­va­nia state trooper who punched a sus­pected drunk driver in the face as he sat hand­cuffed and seat­belted in a pa­trol car, say­ing he would give him “a rea­son to cry,” has been con­victed of as­sault.

A Com­mon Pleas Court jury hear­ing the re­trial of the case in Se­nior Judge Thomas Gavin’s court­room de­liv­ered its guilty ver­dict on charges of sim­ple as­sault Wed­nes­day af­ter hear­ing three days of tes­ti­mony, in­clud­ing John Robert Sro­movsky’s own tes­ti­mony that he was sim­ply try­ing to con­trol a volatile sit­u­a­tion that the driver had started by re­sist­ing ar­rest when he threw the punch.

The jury of seven women and five men de­lib­er­ated for only about 30 min­utes be­fore re­turn­ing with its ver­dict of guilty on counts of at­tempt­ing to cause bod­ily in­jury and caus­ing bod­ily in­jury. The two counts will be merged when Sro­movsky, of Up­per Chich­ester, is sen­tenced. Gavins set that date for June 7.

It was the sec­ond time that the trooper had gone to trial on the charges, which stem from an en­counter he had with Lorenzo Lopez, an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant from Mex­ico who had been stopped by an­other trooper on sus­pi­cion of drunk driv­ing in Septem­ber 2016.

The first jury found him not guilty on charges of mis­de­meanor counts of of­fi­cial op­pres­sion and ter­ror­is­tic threats in Novem­ber, but could not reach a unan­i­mous ver­dict on the sim­ple as­sault charge.

Sro­movsky re­mains free on bail pend­ing his sen­tenc­ing. He had been sus­pended from pay from his position with the state police, where he was a trooper at the Avon­dale bar­racks. State police are now ex­pected to be­gin ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ceed­ings to ter­mi­nate his em­ploy­ment with the agency.

As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyn­thia Mor­gan, who tried both the orig­i­nal case and the re­trial, de­clined com­ment pend­ing sen­tenc­ing ex­cept to thank the ju­rors for their de­ci­sion. De­fense at­tor­ney Chris­tian Hoey, who rep­re­sented Sro­movsky at both pro­ceed­ing, ex­pressed his thanks to the panel for its con­sid­er­a­tion of the case af­ter the ver­dict came in.

Sro­movsky has main­tained that Lopez had been act­ing un­ruly and had fought with state police and a mu­nic­i­pal police of­fi­cer as they were try­ing to take him into cus­tody on the drunk driv­ing charge. He said that he be­lieved Lopez was a dan­ger not only to the other of­fi­cers, but to him­self, and that he needed to con­tain the sit­u­a­tion when he en­coun­tered Lopez in the state police cruiser.

“My in­stinct was to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion,” he said in his tes­ti­mony Wed­nes­day, adding that Lopez had been re­port­edly bang­ing his head against the pa­trol car win­dow. He would have been a risk to any­one who tried to trans­port him to the nearby bar­racks for pro­cess­ing, the trooper said.

But un­der metic­u­lous cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Mor­gan, the eightyear vet­eran agreed that the fight be­tween Lopez and the other of­fi­cers had ended by the time he ar­rived on the scene, and that Lopez was in­deed hand­cuffed with his hands be­hind his back and re­strained by a seat belt when Sro­movsky opened the door to con­front him.

He ac­knowl­edged that the other of­fi­cers on the scene were safe when he ar­rived, and that none had been in­jured in the scuf­fle with Lopez.

“You had no rea­son to punch him in the face, right?” asked Mor­gan. “Yes,” Sro­movsky an­swered. The in­ci­dent with Sro­movsky, 34, of Up­per Chich­ester, Delaware County, was cap­tured on a video recorder in the state police cruiser where Lopez was seated. The video was played for the jury as many as 10 times dur­ing the trial.

Ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed in the case, Lopez was stopped and taken into cus­tody around 10 p.m. Sept. 9, 2016 on GapNew­port Pike in Avon­dale on sus­pi­cion of DUI. Lopez was com­bat­ive with the trooper who stopped him, Andrew Revels, and had to be sub­dued by of­fi­cers who ul­ti­mately ma­neu­vered him in the pas­sen­ger seat of a pa­trol car, in hand­cuffs.

Sro­movsky, who was on duty and in uni­form, heard a call for backup be­cause of the fight, and ar­rived on the scene af­ter Lopez had been sub­dued.

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