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DA: No officers charged in Hewett jail death


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.

Click here to read the official summary, timeline and letter from medical examiner about Hewett's death

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.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Why Mitch won't use "real full name"

Sir, I will not put my "real full name" because I fear reprisals from our local officials -- I have met Ben David, the Sheriff, and others LEOS on many occasions. Merrily, I am making an argument to explain why this case will likely result in a civil tort -- and why I expect it to be settled before such a trial begins. Speaking on using you "full real name," be aware that many of our great American heros like Ben Franklin and Sam Adams often penned letters in fake names! So I stand with them in putting forth my arguments knowing that they may be upsetting to some LEOs.

Anonymous Bravery From "MItch"

"Mitch". Do you know something the SBI doesn't ? If there is corruption, from our Sheriff or DA, why don't you name it ? And stand up against it ? Have some backbone. Show some leadership. Instead of throwing cowardly, anonymous, darts.

A true Law Enforcement Leader, stands up, and tells the truth. Despite possible "fear". I believe your true "fear" is not corruption. I believe your true "fear", is people finding out who you are. And what the real motives are. Behind your baseless, smearing, remarks. Which, even you, refuse to stand behind, with your real name.

I believe you might be, just a slick, clever, lawyer. Trying to cook something up, against a real sheriff, and his officers. For your own personal, political gain. Shame on you.

Bottom Line = Hewett's family will get a settlement

Bottom Line = Hewett's family will get a settlement.
It's the cost of doing business.
Ben David's presentation was very good, but there will still be a settlement. Mark my words.


"Gross Negligence in failing to treat Hewett for severe mental illness during the first 24 hours after he refused food and acted erratically"
No I disagree - only a Judge can order such a thing and Hewett had only been acting erratically since the day before. He refused treatment and refused food. Sheriffs officers are not psychologists nor are they expected to be.

"Gross Negligence during the altercation, in particular the second tazer struck near Hewett's heart -- a violation of the tazer's deployment instructions."
Again,, I disagree - Hewett was moving and therefore this absolves the Sheriffs from not hitting him where they intended to.

"Willful misconduct by deputies holding Hewett in a face-down position for several minutes in which his air passage was constricted"
How could they tell? If it was constricted he would have immediately passed out from lack of air. His head was turned to the side in one photo. This is an awfully shaky claim.

" Gross Negligence by failing to provide prompt medical attention after it became clear he was severely injured; no vital signs were checked until he became "blue,"
CPR within 3 minutes? By a Nurse? I should be so lucky to get that type of response here in the city by Paramedics.

Playing armchair lawyer is great fun but in this case does nothing to help the Hewetts.
Face it - Ron was a drunken addict. He was also a trained LEO, meaning he had the knowledge to combat being shackled, or restrained. He was also a big man. He took the first set of taser cables out - and after the second set he yelled at his prison mates "ya gotta fight". It is not unusual for any addict to go through the DTs in jail and we NEVER hear about it - so should Ron get special treatment?
Sorry but at this point Ron is an average citizen and his behavior warranted the actions of the guards.


You are

You are an idiot. Ron Hewett was the one who attacked first, and he got what he deserved. Medical personal worked on him for 30 mins trying to revive him. As for being incapacitated, he pull the tazer barbs out and attacked again. There is no attorney that will win a case against New Hanover County, and they sure as he!! won't settle because they did nothing wrong.

One of the many things wrong

One of the many things wrong with America now. Just because someone dies or is hurt does NOT mean others should get large settlements.

Very true

It seems we as a society always expect somebody else to pay for our own bad behavior and choices.


To all who knew and didn't know him... He wasn't perfect but does not deserve some of the remarks from idiots that have been posted. The video is a sad testimonial of a very disturbed human pushed to the limit. I make no defense of the behavior in this incident but would offer that befoe you post another hatefull comment,look inside at yourself.


This man did not look anything like he presented 15 years ago. My prayer is that addicts (drug and alcohol) will see what that filth with do to you if you let it. If you are an addict please get help. There is an end and there is a much better way. I will pray for you. Addiction is no way to live.

A legend!

He died as he lived, sticking his finger up to The Man! Fight the power!

Jail personnell are off the hot seat no doubt

Assuming the Benstigator is not covering for his federal dialing happy fingers twin brother, the Jonstigator of Brunsick County; that those 2 district attorneys had not done anything that stirred the Feds beehive at Ron's home. then all is very reasonable, the New Hanover jail acted as any law enforcement would have to do to subdue a hefty fighter who was agitated. He had by then seen news reports that he was being set up again for Federal charges that carried a 10 year sentence, which he had already vowed to trusted friends not to be taken alive to Federal prison again.

Please remove this footage and photos out of consideration!!!

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.

It's unfortunate that this

It's unfortunate that this happened at all, but these officials were under a court order to release the video.

It's sad. But the public had

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.

Deleted comments/Comment approval

Hi folks. For those new to commenting on the website...I just want to reiterate that use of profanity will prevent comments from being approved.
This is an emotional subject, I totally understand, but profanity is prohibited.
Thank you.
-Daniel(one of the moderators)

Ronald Hewett

I wonder why the question "Was Sheriff Hewett receiving medical care for his addiction or was he going cold turkey off alcohol and medications" was not asked. Does anyone see that information on any news media? That may of had relation to why he was found just standing on his bed for hours. Not a normal action.

Ron Hewett

Absolutely! Have not heard anything about that. I am not defending anything Ron did, just saying lots of things not addressed.


Look at this tape carefully Folks. Do you think we,re getting the whole UNABRIDGED tape? NOWAY! This man was supposedly going to see his Mother and Girlfriend! And all of a sudden he is walking around the dayroom in his underwear, all you see is him getting tased and fighting the Deputies... What is going on here????

And another thing.. Why did it take nearly three (3) weeks to the day for this tape to be released??? WHY??? Could it be that (GASP) the tape has been altered?????

Call in the FBI, let them investigate, the SBI of North Carolina is a joke, always has been. Letting the SBI investigate is like letting the Fox guarding the Hen House.

re: altered tape/Tomfree

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.

Shut Up

Now all those who keep defending Hollywood Hewett should just shut up. He threw the first punch, he refused to comply with orders, he repeatedly challenged the authority of the jailers, and he got the same treatment any other prisoner would have gotten. It's his own fault he died, and no one elses. The statement made was correct, Ron Hewett was the only one who commited a crime. Sometimes when you commit a crime you die. These deputies did nothing wrong. There was no underlying plan for New Hanover County to get rid of Ron Hewett as some of you idiots have stated on this forum. Get over it the crooked cop is dead, and that is the end of the story.

Stupid comments

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



I wonder

I wonder how many times you have been locked up in the New Hanover County Jail? How many of your family have been guests of the county? You sound like the rest of these nut jobs who believe the criminals are the good guys, and the cops are the bad ones. Granted you do have some bad cops, but the vast majority do their jobs against almost impossible odds. Your writing is an example of stupidity that is beyond belief, and it is a wonder you can even function on a day to day basis. You are just sad and living in dream world.

take this down!!!

What is this world coming too???? Wway I have watched you daily for along time news or not this is disrespect to Mr. Ron and his family.... I don't care what he did or didn't do this is a disgrace. My Daddy is in jail and I can promise u if this had been him I would sew!!!! I know its news but why does this make the web page .... to humiliate..... TAKE THIS DOWN!!!! And why is there blood on the ground???? We don't see the whole video.... So this is probably a bunch of BS....cut and paste.... RIP Mr. Ron..... what goes around comes around... God help America!!!!!


Did you even bother to watch the video or read the accompanying article? If you had, you would have seen/heard/read that he was tased and then ripped the prongs out. That's where the blood came from.

P.S. What would you "sew"? A button on a shirt? A patch on a sleeve? And what exactly does sewing have to do with any of this, Ms. Seamstress? Also, you asked what this world is coming "too". "Too" means also, again, etc. So technically, you asked "What is this world coming also????" Also, look up the word "along". It does not mean what you obviously thought it meant.


Ronald Hewett

I have looked at this video several times today and it makes me sad and mad each time I see it. Something had made Ronald Hewett upset. We don't see that at the beginning of one video I saw. He could have been going through withdrawal or he could have thought about how he was treated during his imprisonment. Whatever happened made him mad. What I don't like is how he was handcuffed and carried and put on his stomach. If he had a bad heart the pressure from his weight being carried like he was and handcuffed behind his back could not have helped the situation. I have read these posts and there are some heartless people in this world. One day you might find yourself in the same situation. Ronald Hewett was a good law enforcement officer. I would imagine the 14 years he served he saw some mighty bad sights and saw things that wore him down. The mentality of all is enough to make a person be stressed to the max. My uncle was Sheriff in Columbus and he had a heart attack and died while in office. We will never know what Ronald Hewett thought and how he felt. He was a human being and he should not have been treated as badly as he was. Those deputies can feel like they are not going to be held accountable, but when each one lays their head on the pillow at night, I am sure they are having uncomfortable thoughts. God knows all and HE will take care of the situation. Ronald Hewett can't talk anymore but he has friends that will defend him. He did not deserve this type of treatment. I will never feel the same towards any of the NHC law enforcement officials again and definitely not towards Ben David. Their day of reckoning will come because the Lord will set the record straight one day. July 12, 2014 will be remembered by many people. Ronald Hewett's family should not be grieving today.

No dignity

I never met Ron but it breaks my heart to see a man who was, at one time, a good law enforcement officer have is life end in such a pitiful way with no dignity at all. I do hope he rests in peace.


I met the man on several occasions and found him to be an interesting character. His so called "crime", trial, and sentencing were not a side show, but a sad testament to "the man" in Brunswick county.
Lately he was a different person.
He was bloated, angry and violent.
He WAS NOT in leg irons.
He WAS NOT abused in any way shape or form.

For Hewett supporters this video proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was NO CONSPIRACY, and NO cover up.
Ron was a troubled person - and of late a drunken addict. Hewett supporters need to come to grips with the fact that the pedestal they put him on no longer exists.
It a bitter pill to swallow, I'm sure


I do not know what kind of

I do not know what kind of medications this man was on however, I hope this man was not snatched off of his medication. It appears to me, this man may have been in withdrawals which can alter thinking and mood. Hope the jail was managing this properly.


Everyone gets to see his last moments, running around in his underoos with his moobs floppin. This is the life of a drunkard. His fault.