- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jurors have acquitted a white former Philadelphia police officer of charges of hurling racial epithets and threatening to kill a black man during an off-duty traffic incident.

The panel deliberated for about eight hours before returning the verdict on the terroristic threats charge in favor of Edward Sawicki III on Friday, The Philadelphia Inquirer (https://bit.ly/1RKEOcY ) reported.

Sawicki, a police officer for almost nine years who was fired after he was charged, appeared to sag in his chair with relief as the verdict was read. He was later hugged by relatives and fellow officers and thanked jurors and those “who supported me over this very long two years.”

Jurors were unable to reach agreement on charges of simple assault and a weapons count related to allegations that the 36-year-old displayed his service pistol in a threatening manner. Prosecutors are to announce at a June 1 hearing whether they will retry Sawicki on those two counts.

Defense attorney William Brennan called the terroristic threats charge “the foundation of this entire case.”



“We’re hopeful the D.A.’s office will let this matter end with this verdict,” Brennan said.

Investigators have said Sawicki backed into the victim’s knee while parking near south Philadelphia’s famed Pat’s King of Steaks restaurant in October 2013.

Police said the man banged his hand on Sawicki’s car when he was struck, and he said Sawicki used racial slurs and told him “I’ll smoke you.” Sawicki said he thought the man was trying to stage a false-accident scam and said the man caused a scene when he realized Sawicki was a police officer.

A Pat’s employee testified that he saw the heated argument and heard the officer make threatening remarks, but under questioning said he could no longer be sure who used racial slurs.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com

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