From Northampton County DA's Office: James Connell, of Hellertown, pleaded guilty today to Simple Assault, receiving a sentence of 12 months of probation, and an order to complete an anger management program, in addition to having no contact with the victim.
On April 1, police responded around 6 p.m. to a report of an assault in the parking lot of Wings on Main, located at 605 Main Street in the borough of Hellertown. Officials interviewed multiple witnesses on scene, and later interviewed the victim.
The victim told police he was leaving the establishment when he noticed a man he was familiar with – identified as Connell – inside a red pickup truck. Connell displayed his middle finger to the victim, at which point the victim returned the same gesture, while exchanging words. Connell then reversed his truck toward the parking lot entrance as the victim entered the passenger side of his Ford Explorer and closed the door.
Connell then approached the vehicle occupied by the victim, opened the passenger door and asked the victim, “You got a problem with me?” before physically placing both hands around the victim’s throat and striking the victim in the mouth with a closed fist. This resulted in minor injuries for the victim. Witnesses at the scene then forcibly dragged Connell away from the victim.
Police obtained surveillance footage from the establishment, which accurately depicted the victim’s account of events. At the time of the arrest, Connell, 46, was employed as an officer with the Lower Saucon Township Police Department. Connell’s attorney, Gavin Holihan, reported to the court today at sentencing that Connell is actively looking for another job, as he is no longer able to perform his duties in the field of law enforcement.
Blogger's Note: Had Connell been an ordinary citizen, he almost certainly would have been accepted in the ARD program, a special program for first offenders in which minor charges are dismissed after a period of probation. But DA Terry Houck, a former cop himself, is making clear that he expects a higher standard from police officers.