A federal jury found on Wednesday that a Rutland police officer didn't do anything wrong when he arrested a South Carolina woman in July 2015.
At the end of a two-day trial that started on Wednesday, the jury found that Detective Ryan Ashe, who was a uniformed officer at the time, did not intentionally use excessive force when arresting Chelsea Smith-Wallet on July 24, 2015.
The jury had been asked to reach decisions on other questions like whether Smith-Wallet was drunk at the time and whether she resisted arrest as well as whether Ashe injured Smith-Wallet or threw her to the ground but those decisions would have only been needed if the jury found Ashe had violated police procedure.
Kaveh Shahi, who represented Ashe, and Matthew Hart, who represented Smith-Wallet, could not be reached during the weekend.
According to the lawsuit filed by Smith-Wallet, she was sitting on the corner of Wales and Center streets when Ashe saw her and accused her of being “passed out on the sidewalk.”
Ashe's incident report said Smith-Wallett was “too drunk to stand by herself” so he had to bring her to her feet. Ashe said Smith-Wallet fell after she pulled away from him and he only grabbed her to pull her back and continue with the arrest process.
During the arrest, Ashe brought Smith-Wallet to the hood of his police cruiser and handcuffed her. He told her he wasn't arresting her but detaining her because she was “drunk in public,” according to video of the incident.
Smith-Wallet said she pleaded with Ashe to just release her and let her go home but he became angry and slammed her to the ground, causing a concussion and an injury to her right knee. That part of the incident was heard but not seen in the video.
The trial took place in the federal court in Burlington.
According to online court records, the case was given to the jury around noon on Wednesday and the verdict was reported around 1:45 p.m.
This was the second time in less than two months that Ashe was cleared by a federal jury of using excessive force.
In August, a jury ruled for Ashe after he was sued by Kevin Elnicki, owner of Earth Waste Systems.
Elnicki claimed Ashe pointed a gun at him, violently yanked him out of his truck and threw him to the ground during the 2016 stop.
Ashe admiited he drew his gun but denied ever pointing it at Elnicki or using force against Elnicki during the stop.