Detroit cop gets probation for punching hospital patient

Detroit Police Corporal Dewayne Jones, with his attorney Pamella Szydlak, stands for his sentencing on a misdemeanor assault conviction in the courtroom of Judge Kenneth King at 36th District Court in Detroit Wednesday morning.

A 20-year veteran Detroit Police corporal was given probation Wednesday and ordered to attend anger management classes for punching a mentally unstable woman in a Detroit hospital last year.

Judge Kenneth King of 36th District Court also ordered Dewayne Jones to perform 15 days of community service for misdemeanor assault and battery and to pay a $500 fine and about $300 in court-related courts and fees. 

Jones could have been sentenced to 93 days in jail.

In sentencing the officer, King said video footage of the incident "did not look good" but added that he has a "crystal clear" department record.

Witnesses said Jones repeatedly punched the woman after she spit at him and bit him while Jones and other officers were trying to calm her down in the early evening of Aug. 1. Video of the incident went viral after it was recorded by a woman whose sister was a patient at the hospital.

"You had a man striking a woman," King said. "You had a man striking a woman who was mentally ill in a hospital."

The judge said in the video, Jones looked "like a rogue officer gone wild" but added, "I don't think he's a rogue officer at all."

KIng gave Jones six months less probation than was recommended in a presentence report by the court's probation department.

"I'm not going to treat Corporal Jones any better or worse (than any other defendant)," the judge said, adding that Jones would have harmed the woman more if he had used a Taser.

The judge pointed out that while the woman spit at others, Jones was the only officer to strike her.

Jones' defense attorney Pamella Szydlak said Wednesday that her client has been a "dedicated  honest, sincere and outstanding" police officer. 

"He has dedicated his entire adult life to criminal justice," she said in court  "Still, our position is that Corporal Jones acted (within the guidelines) of his training."

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Joshua Holman said his office was not asking for any jail time for the officer but Jones' actions "were wrong and criminal."

Jones declined to comment in court about the incident to the judge. He also declined to be interviewed by The News after receiving his sentence.

The sister of the woman Jones punched was visibly upset Wednesday over the sentencing. She said she was not happy with the punishment given to the corporal but declined to say more.

The victim did not attend the hearing. The sister said she is in a treatment facility and has been assigned a guardian to care for her.

Local activists say the sentence for Jones was too soft.

"Corporal Dewayne Jones should serve time for his violent crime," said Scotty Boman of Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight. "The man beat a woman and serves no time. ... This trivializes acts of violence against women to nothing worse than a nonviolent crime. This is a green light for officers who may be predisposed to use excessive force."

The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality also criticized the sentence.

"Judge King's decision sends the message that mentally challenged women's rights are of no value, said group member Chris White. "The officer had the responsibility to show restraint in this matter and chose violence as a solution. This is a clear case of police brutality. The Board of Police Commissioners should direct the chief to remove Corporal Jones from the force."

Jones remains on "restrictive status" as an officer with Detroit police with a mandatory non-weapon condition, the department said Wednesday. An internal administrative investigation is continuing.

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