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Charges against city cop dismissed

December 18, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Washington County District judge on Thursday dismissed all charges against a Hagerstown Police officer who was charged with pointing a gun at his live-in girlfriend.

Curtis W. Kelley, 24, of 15701 Fenton Ave., Williamsport, faced charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. Washington County District Judge Ralph H. France II dismissed those charges after hearing testimony from Hagerstown Police Sgt. Paul Kifer and arguments from the prosecutor and defense attorney.

After the preliminary hearing Thursday morning, Kelley declined to comment, on the advice of his attorney.

At least 10 Hagerstown police officers, some in uniform and others in street clothes, sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing.

The woman in the case was not in the courtroom Thursday, said Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell, who declined to comment further after the hearing.

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Hagerstown Police received a tip in November that Kelley pointed his department-issued gun at his live-in girlfriend during an argument between the couple Sept. 12 at their apartment on Kenly Avenue in Hagerstown, Kifer testified Thursday.

The argument began after the woman told Kelley she was meeting a male friend whom she had known most of her life, Kifer said.

During a subsequent interview with police Nov. 19, the woman said that Kelley had been getting ready for work and pointed the pistol at her while she was in the living room playing with their dog, Kifer testified. The woman told police that Kelley said he wouldn't shoot her because she "wasn't worth the (expletive) bullet," Kifer said.

Kelley's defense attorney argued to the judge that the assault charges required the victim be in fear of bodily harm at the time of the incident.

Kifer had testified that the woman said she "did not believe he would shoot her," but that she was concerned Kelley might harm her later.

The woman's report to Kifer that she did not believe Kelley would shoot her was enough to defeat any finding of guilt of first- or second-degree assault, defense attorney Shaun Owens said.

The couple had been together for a number of years, but there had never been any allegations of physical harm to the woman, Kifer testified.

After the hearing, Kelley's attorney took questions.

"He looks forward to getting back to work, serving and protecting the people of Washington County," Owens said.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith spoke Thursday in general about the process involved when a police officer is charged criminally. Once the criminal charges are disposed of, the department is obligated to perform an internal investigation before the officer may return to work, Smith said.

Kelley had not been performing police duties but he was being paid, Smith said.

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