Recently released hospital surveillance videos and body cam footage depict an off-duty Fort Worth police officer repeatedly punching an unarmed man for no justifiable reason. Working for the hospital as a security guard at the time, the off-duty cop was indicted earlier this month on charges of official oppression, making a false report to a peace officer, and aggravated perjury.
On November 5, 2016, Henry Newson was discharged from the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital after being treated for a stomach ailment for two days. While waiting in the lobby for his mother to pick him up, Newson was confronted and questioned by a security guard.
When Newson refused to answer the guard’s questions, off-duty Fort Worth Police Officer Jon Romer interjected and abruptly told him, “Get off the phone. Shut up. Get off the phone.”
According to the hospital surveillance videos and security body cams, Romer shoved Newson in the chest and grabbed his arm when Newson referred to the security guard as “bro.”
Romer suddenly stopped and asked, “Bro?”
Despite the fact that Newson appeared compliant and non-aggressive, Romer punched him in the face and placed Newson in a chokehold before taking him to the ground. As hospital security guards Jeremy Flores and Jonathan Walterbach piled on top of Newson, Romer repeatedly assaulted him with hammer fist strikes to the head.
“He doesn’t resist, he doesn’t fight back,” Newson’s attorney, Matthew Bobo, told NBC5. “It was fast. It was violent and there was nothing that would have indicated that that should have happened or was going to happen. But it happened immediately. And there was no provocation by Mr. Newson.”
While the security guards handcuffed Newson’s wrists, he told Romer, “You punched me in my face four times.”
“Yeah, I’ll hit you some more!” Romer retorted.
Newson spent two days in jail after he was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and trespassing. Prosecutors dropped the case against him in March 2017.
Newson later filed a lawsuit against the hospital and city of Fort Worth. Romer was placed on restricted duty and later indicted on charges of official oppression, making a false report to a peace officer, and aggravated perjury.
During a statement to the grand jury, Romer falsely stated he told Newson that he was under arrest before repeatedly punching him.
“The first time somebody ever saw that video, they should have put him on a desk, taken him off,” Bobo asserted. “They should have terminated him, quite frankly. I mean, period.”
In 2011, a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Romer after he fatally shot a motorist during a traffic stop. Refusing to exit his vehicle, the 32-year-old handicapped father named Charal “Ra Ra” Thomas began driving and dragging Romer with his arm trapped in the window when the officer shot him to death in front of his three children.
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