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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.


He should have never been in

He should have never been in NH County jail anyway, he was a former Sheriff. I think it is sad, he was just a troubled man.

RIP Ronald Hewett

That video clearly shows the professional way the custody officers handled the high stress situation. Ronald Hewett was a good man. And a good Sheriff. He made mistakes. And he paid a high price for them.

That incident reflects a sad chapter, the end of a good man's life. Years of heavy drinking , extreme hurt, and overeating, will destroy a man's heart.

I feel sorry for Mr. Hewett, and his family. I also feel sorry for the deputies. Who went through so much stress. They did a excellent job. It was clearly, not their fault. I hope the Sheriff tells each one, personally. New Hanover County has a Sheriff's Department, and District Attorney, we should be very proud of.

try and fail

Committing criminal acts are not mistakes, they are active choices he made. A mistake is not taking your umbrella when you leave in the morning and get caught in rain at lunch.

I am saddened that we as

I am saddened that we as humans have lost all compassion. A man is dead...D E A D ... His final moments of life were not sitting around with family at his side. It's obvious he was at least emotionally distressed. When does a person get to have some privacy? Why do all the viewers need to see the video that's attached to this article? Let the man have some dignity! As a resident of Brunswick County, I would like to apologize to Mr. Hewett's family. It really is not fair that even in death he can't have peace. I am sorry that so many people want " the show" and every little detail of what happened. I am sorry that people forget there is still a "living" family that is suffering. I just want you to know that not everyone feels his death is some huge media event to pry. There are some of us who think your rights as a family should come first! Mr. Hewett made a choice once in regards to me and my children that I felt was wrong while he was in office, but still he deserved better than this! Hold no grudges. God bless you, and again my sincere apologizes.

There was a lot of

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this death. Those who chose to put Hewett on a pedestal are the ones who cried foul regarding his death. They are the ones who made it necessary for the media to release the tapes so that they could see that the workers at the jail were not at fault. Of course, there are those who will believe what they want to regardless of the truth being put before their eyes, but there is nothing that can be done about that.


Is what Killed Ole RH.. Yu can "see-it" in His "Swagger"..A "piss-ant" Rookie Officer comes along, giving commands, which Ronnie don't take akin to...
Rookie Officer, reacts quickly, instead of gettin Ron to "calm down", decides, insteads to "ignite" the situation,,,,
Ronnie, being round this game once before, reached His breaking point..
Coupled with haveing DT's, & Xanax withdraw,,, Folk's,,,, He just "snapped"..
BTW, anyone catch the Video @ 1:15 mark? Looks like Blood, (for sure), and about 4 or 5 teeth on the floor with the blood... (Wonder what happened there?), I have a acreen cap...


your right! blood on the ground, teeth. they should show ALL of the video. he died because of a Rookie getting too excited. bet he feels all robo cop now doesnt he? killed a good guy. Dont believe everything you see here. A LOT IS CROPPED OUT~


Blood came from his hand. On one video I saw you can clearly see his hand is bleeding and that spot is right where his hand was. Who knows what he punched.

Ronald Hewett/blood

I keep reading about the blood on the floor seen in one of the pictures. If anyone viewed ALL of the press meeting with Ben David and Sheriff McMahan, it tells you where the blood came from. When he was tazed, one of the prongs hit Ronald in his hand the other in his chest. This was explained in the news release. Why do people make accusations without listening to the whole story? As for his not receiving treatment for any meds he was taking, I wonder if Ronald told anyone he was taking any medication. If he had been taking something illegal, he may not have disclosed that to law enforcement when he got to the jail. He also refused to see medical professionals the day before. The deputies treated Ronald with professionalism and respect. For all who are making unfounded accusations about the New Hanover County officers involved, just remember they too have a family and are doing their best to serve and protect our community. They are just as dedicated to keeping us safe as Ronald USED to before he went astray.

Nobodies fault but Hewetts

Ron made many mistakes over the last three years in office.
He promoted some pretty shady folks. That's not even in question. Ron also started suffering from mental illness those last three years and insomnia. He would take sleeping pills and mix alcohol with it and turn into a lunatic.
After conviction and prison a lot of his former subordinates had a field day on him.
He really wasn't a mean guy at all. He was a sick man that made bad choices that a lot of former and current sheriffs do and get away with. Ron's biggest mistake was he would make himself an easy target due to his mental illness. And the predators he promoted pounced! If any of you think any sheriff that has been in office over 8 years isn't a little power hungry or God syndrome or just a little corrupt. Your fooling yourself!

The deputies involved didn't break the law, but they didn't go by the policy for escorting inmates.
They should've checked to see if Ronald was appropriate for visitation. But even more than that Officer safety is paramount! Never, never open a cell door without checking to see if inmate is safe and appropriate for movement!
If that was done per policy in any jail in the nation. This wouldn't have happened.
It just sounds like untrained or burned out deputies made a mistake. I suggest NHSO gets it's folks trained on Inmate Movement Procedures.

need to show from the start

need to show from the start instead of a picture of what happened.where did the blood come from that was beside will happened to somebody else that is all.his family needs to sue for wronfully death.if they let them by with this it will happened again anyway regardless.and for all of yall out there this could be some of yalls family.people on here are saying alchool and drug abuse that might be but that did not contrubite to blood on ground and teases was stated that a officer hit him with a closed fist that is why it is wrongful death. hewett family should collect when goldman family collect for wrongful death.that i have been around many drunks and havent seen withdrawls it is just a cover up. they need to take the sheriff out on a rail. during voting time people say needchange why dont nhc elect new people if yall want new change.we trust our elected officals to do what is right for the people.if you let this go ed macchon is no different than ronald hewett obustracting justice. hahaha ed machhon will never be like ronald hewett ed machon will go down in history for killing ronald hewett.even ed machomn deputies need to be handled.we all know where the blood came from he was beaten. people need to look at the das they are not doing there jobs. voting time is coming need to look at the county officals.and city officals and make a change. for instiant look at brain burger look what he has cost the people. wilmington and nhc need alot of change


Normally individuals who believe in what they state are not afraid to identify themselves. It's easy to say anything if an alias is used but believability suffers.

Sometimes, when people

Sometimes, when people identify themselves on the internet, those with different opinions do nasty things. I personally have had someone spread my address around and my husband's work information around and encouraged people to make trouble for us. So, forgive me for staying anonymous to protect my family.

I couldn't agree more.

I couldn't agree more. Everyone knows me, as the Public Avenger.

Aren't you special. Bless

Aren't you special. Bless your heart.

Think before you speak

What's most unfortunate is the number of comments that that have been made about this incident. The ones made out of pure lack of knowledge and the ones made out of pure lack of respect for the family....which pretty much includes all the comments that I've read.

Poor Handling by the Deputies

When Hewett appeared in boxers and refused to dress, instead of approaching Hewett, the deputy should have shut the door to the cell and left him alone!!!!!! There is no rule that states a prisoner HAS to go to his visitation!

Click on the link above to

Click on the link above to read the DA's report. It clarifies that point and gives a timeline to the events that happened that day.

The article clearly states

The article clearly states Hewett was in the dayroom wearing his boxers. The dayroom is not a cell.

Thank you for the update.

I am sick of the finger pointing. The only one responsible for this has passed away. Chronic drinker and obvious weight gain adding to his inability to follow the staff's directives.
How the mighty fall....


Dumb comment

Dumb relative in

Dumb relative in denial.
Video shows it... now take a seat and be quiet.

I really don't want to see that

Really, who do you think wants to see that picture?

I do. It is trying to make a

I do.
It is trying to make a point to people WHO put this crooked former cop on a pedestal. I am happy they are showing video AND photos to back what happened.


Look at the VIDEO people. Hewett came after the officer, Hewett continues after the officer all around the large room outside the cell, he asked for it ! There is no conspiracy here. The man had an ENLARGED heart from years of drug and alcohol abuse.

Exactly. So glad they are

So glad they are showing what happened so people who think this 'man' was a saint can see he was an overweight drunk that caused his own demise.

Ron Hewett

Clearly, Mr. Hewett, should not been allowed to visit his mom and friend in his boxers if it was a rule; although I am sure both parties had seen him in boxers before. If the officers had just ignored him, left him where ever he was, told the visitors he was not being co-operative, I think this would not have happened. Then we might have eventually learned other stories that will now never be told. Guess they were forcing him to see his mom and that, I do not believe.

Proper procedure?

I've worked in jails and helped write policies on some over 22 years.

If a high risk prisoner is refusing food, and is being watched closely. How was he let out of his cell without noticing he had no pants on? I know that this modern facility has observation windows on the doors.
So if proper procedure was followed Hewitt would've never walked outside the cell. So procedure wasn't followed 100%. Let's get that straight from the start! Unless the deputies just open cell doors without looking in first. If they do that, they need more training. Or you need better staff to write policies that adhere to national and state standards.
I don't think the deputies did anything wrong during the control of Hewett. But all of that could've been avoided if procedure was followed.

Foxes are not the best informants

I want to hear the autopsy results.I want to hear the results of the SBI investigation. I can predict what Ben David and Ed McMahon will say. Neither are going to admit guilt. Until someone is held accountable for tasering him twice even though he was in a chicken coop size jail cell behind metal bars, I'll say what I've been saying. Murder! The remaining questions have to do with his health which was not given one minute's consideration even though he was clearly in distress either from alcohol withdrawal or a failing heart or both. Let's ask ourselves if we think he'd be dead if he hadn't been in NH county jail?

no bars

No bars, watch the video.