DA: No officers charged in Hewett jail death


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Submitted: Sat, 08/02/2014 - 3:27am
Updated: Wed, 06/10/2015 - 11:24am
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After a full review of security video and a SBI investigation, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David has decided not to charge any officers in the jailhouse death of former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett.

In a news conference this morning, David and New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon released information about Hewett’s death, including video of the moments leading up to his death.

“The only person who committed any crime, was Ronald Hewett,” David said of the incident inside the jail July 12.

Investigators say Hewett began refusing meals on July 11 before refusing to see the jail’s mental health staff July 12. The incident that preceded his death began as Hewett was heading to a visit with his mother and girlfriend.

“I want the community to know, like I know, how professional and well-trained your sheriff’s office is,” McMahon said.

After falling under public scrutiny over Hewett’s death, McMahon decided to release the security video from the incident

“It’s important that we maintain the trust and the confidence and transparency,” McMahon said.

Security video shows Hewett entering the jail’s dayroom July 12 wearing nothing but his boxers.

“The deputies attempt by intercom to have him go back in and go do his visit,” McMahon said while showing reporters the video.

Hewett Refused. A deputy approached. That’s when Hewett became combative and the deputy tased him, but Hewett immediately pulled out the prongs and went after the deputy again.

When backup arrived, Hewett attacked again. After tasing Hewett a second time, guards were able to control him, but the former lawman continued being uncooperative.

“You know it takes real talent to kill a man with a Taser,” Hewett told the guards. “Y’all don’t have the ba**s to step up to a man.”

Moments later Hewett spoke out to a larger audience, his fellow inmates, as he pushed back against the officers.

“I didn’t go down like a coward, boys,” Hewett said. “Y’all got a fight.”

Jail staff placed Hewett in his cell on suicide watch, which meant checking on him every five minutes. During the second check, which happened two minutes after the first check, a deputy noticed he was not moving. A supervisor decided several deputies would enter the cell for a welfare check in case Hewett was “playing possum.” That visit happened three minutes after the second check, and officers noted Hewett looked blue. A nurse entered less than a minute later responding to a call for medical attention. She and deputies began CPR as EMS was called and arrived in about 15 minutes. Life-saving efforts performed for about 30 minutes, including the use of a defibrillator, failed.

Official results from Hewett’s autopsy won’t be available for weeks, but the medical examiner has ruled Hewett died of a heart condition made worse by chronic alcohol use and the stress of what happened and not the actual tasing.

“Sudden cardiac death due to Taser deployment would be immediate and not delayed by a number of minutes as happened in this case,” David read from a letter from the doctor who performed the autopsy.

David said there were two things to consider in this case: Use of force and care of a person while they’re in custody.

“The deputy that deployed the Taser and those who provided immediate backup acted consistent with well-established precedent to protect themselves and others,” David said.

The DA said he spoke to Hewett’s family and showed them the video earlier this week. He said they completely understand his decision.

Hewett was in federal custody in the jail awaiting a detention hearing after ATF agents arrested him after finding guns in his home. Hewett was not allowed to have a gun as a felon.

The US Marshal Service says they will continue to house inmates in the New Hanover County Jail.

NOTE: The small pool of blood on the floor next to Hewett in the photo above is from his hand where one of the Taser prongs hit, investigators say.

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99 Comments on "DA: No officers charged in Hewett jail death"


PublicAvenger
2015 years 8 months ago

It’s sad. But the public had to see it. To clear up questions. Each day, six or seven new stories, headline over it. In a few days, it will be forgotten , and buried on page six.

But as a member of Law Enforcement. I am glad it was shown.

Christy Judah
2015 years 8 months ago

There comes a time when human life and compassion should be top priority to all. It is absolutely disgusting that the chief law enforcement and other local officials have chosen to release these videos and photographs of a man literally taking his last breathe of life. Where is the compassion for the family and the literally thousands of friends and co-workers? Where is the moral turpitude of the individuals that chose to print or show these videos? What has happened to mankind that this is shown to the world? Would they have been shown if this was the DA’s son or nephew or brother? When the reputation of a department trumps what is best for thousands of people who are deeply in grief already, it is a sad day which will never be forgotten. It turns my stomach personally.

I am angered and disgusted by the media treatment of this entire event and death. May God Bless and hold all those who are so deeply affected by these images and may they be allowed to grieve and move through their healing process after losing a friend, father, husband, co-worker, uncle, nephew, etc. Through tears we condemn not the LEO but the media for stooping to the lowest of the low. You have truly demonstrated a lack of scruples or integrity as have the LEO which released all this information.

SUE
2015 years 8 months ago

HEY MR.WALTERS IS THIS CAUSE YOU ARE OR WAS ONE OF THEM, DID YOU USE TO WORK FOR THEM..I THINK THIS NAME SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT…DIDN’T A INMATE PUNCH A CO NAME WALTERS IN THE FACE WITH A TRAY OF FOOD AND WANTED TO KILL HIM..UUMMM, EVERYONE THAT COMMITS A CRIME DOES NOT DESERVE TO DIE!..OH AND BY THE WAY SIR, THIS DEPT. IS ON THE NEWS A LOT FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DEATHS OF SO MANY, PEOPLE CAN FEEL HOWEVER THEY WANT IT’S THE ONE FREEDOM THAT HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM AMERICANS YET. I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO ADD JUST THE OTHER NIGHT THIS SAME DEPT. WAS ON TV RECAPPING A MURDER AT A CAMPUS THERE IN TOWN THAT WAS ALSO A COVER UP…YOU CAN’T PLAY THE GAME AND WHEN YOU GET CAUGHT CHEATING, CHANGE THE PLAYERS AND POINT THE FINGER..FBI SHOULD BE CALLED IN ON ALLLLLLLLLL THE DEATHS OF THAT COUNTY FOR LAST 10 YRS AT LEAST!

new hanover county citizen
2015 years 8 months ago

Tomfree, did you watch the entire news briefing by Ben David and Sheriff McMahon? If not, please do so. The parts of the video shown are parts released by the news media outlet. There are missing parts edited to protect the family of Ronald Hewett, edited out by the news outlets. There was a court order requiring the Sheriff to release the video’s in their entirety to the news outlet. Sheriff McMahon did just that, asking the news outlets to please be respectful of the Hewett family. So, no, the entire video isn’t being shown to the public for just that reason. Showing Ronald at his worse does nothing but cause more heartache to his family. I think the news outlets would have shown any misconduct that would have been on the video by any officer, if there had been any such behavior. I find it interesting that some people are doing to our officers what they feel was done to Ronald….please stop accusing them of things that they didn’t do. Our officers acted professionally and did what they could to help him.

Jeris Hewett
2015 years 8 months ago

Mr. Walters…Your insinsitive and crass comments serve no purpose but to stroke your feeble ego. Shut up.