CENTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. – A grand jury presentment obtained by BeaverCountian.com reveals that an off-duty police officer is facing charges in the death of a man whom he sent crashing to the ground at a Walmart in Center Township, Pennsylvania. The presentment states that the victim, Kenneth Vinyard, 42, was not behaving aggressively or resisting commands prior to the incident.
Officer John Hawk, who has been charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and perjury, remains free on a $200,000 unsecured bond. Hawk’s lawyer, Stephen Colafella, declined to comment on the presentment.
According to the grand jury, Hawk’s use of force was not legally justified, and video evidence showed no interaction between Hawk and Vinyard at the time of the assault. The presentment also revealed that Hawk lied to a fellow officer, claiming that Vinyard fell over. Furthermore, Hawk failed to follow police department protocol by not informing the officer-in-charge or the police chief about the incident and neglecting to fill out a use-of-force form.
During his testimony before the grand jury, Hawk justified his use of physical force against Vinyard, stating that he believed Vinyard was interfering with the shooting investigation. However, multiple witnesses testified that Hawk did not identify himself as a police officer at the scene, a claim supported by video footage.
The preliminary hearing for Hawk has yet to be scheduled.