State police corporal from Shippensburg charged with assaulting prisoner
JIM TUTTLE Staff Writer
Christian D. Fow, 43, Shippensburg, was charged Tuesday with simple assault, according to a statement issued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. A Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson told the Associated Press that Fow has been suspended without pay.
The second-degree misdemeanor charge was filed with Magisterial District Judge David Plum. Online court records indicate that a preliminary arraignment has not taken place and a preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.
Fow is accused of pepper-spraying Christopher Broadwater, 52, in the face and physically assaulting him after he was arrested Sept. 29, 2010, and restrained in the back of a patrol car. The vehicle’s Mobile Video Recorder captured footage of the incident, according to the attorney general’s office.
“They beat the living daylights out of me,” Broadwater told Public Opinion Tuesday night. “I honest to God couldn’t understand why this was happening to me.”
He said five troopers were sent to his Path Valley Road home over allegations that he threatened to beat up an auto mechanic with a baseball bat. He claims the allegations were based on a remark he made to an insurance agent.
“I had a problem with a mechanic that day and he over charged me. I was on the phone with my insurance lady and she (called police to report) that I was going to go beat the guy up,” Broadwater said. “What I said was that I felt like slapping him upside his head with my cane.”
Broadwater, who was living alone with four dogs, said it was about 6:50 p.m. and he was in his underwear “getting ready to watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’” when the police came knocking. He said that when he opened the door, they were waiting with cans of pepper spray in their hands.
“They were waiting for a confrontation,” he said. “They thought I had a baseball bat waiting for them.”
He said he walked with a cane due to a bad hip, but did not have the cane when he answered the door. Since the arrest, he has had hip replacement surgery.
Broadwater said the police pepper-sprayed and Tased him on the porch, then he began rolling around and ripped the Taser probes out of his chest before crawling back inside his house. He said they broke down his door and handcuffed him, took him outside and put him in the cruiser.
Attorney General Linda Kelly said that Fow, who served as a patrol supervisor, arrived at the incident scene after Broadwater was restrained and placed in the police car. Fow can be seen in the video behind the car, consulting with emergency medical personnel and other police officers.
Broadwater said an ambulance on scene took away one of the troopers, who was injured during the arrest. He would later be charged with assaulting the trooper, but claims the man slipped off his porch and sprained his ankle.
Because it was after normal business hours Tuesday, Public Opinion was unable to get a copy of Broadwater’s original charging documents from Magisterial District Judge Kelly Rock’s office.
According to the attorney general’s statement, Broadwater shows no sign of injury at the beginning of the video, but is heard complaining that the handcuffs are causing discomfort. On a number of occasions during the 29 minutes of footage, other troopers are seen and heard checking the security and comfort of the handcuffs.
One of the medical responders is heard commenting about Broadwater’s movements in the car and Fow is then seen opening the rear door and pepper-spraying Broadwater in the face.
At that point Broadwater moves so his face was just out of the camera’s view, followed by an exchange of words and the sound of what appears to be someone being struck. Broadwater can then be seen on-camera again with what appears to be blood on his face.
The attorney general’s statement indicates that Broadwater was belted in the car throughout the incident. He claims that he was uncomfortable, so he managed to unbuckle the seat belt. As a result, he fell out onto the ground when Fow opened the door.
“He grabbed me by my pony tail and uppercut me,” Broadwater said.
Broadwater said a second ambulance arrived at his home and took him to Chambersburg Hospital. He said his injuries included two large cuts on his face, each of which required 15 stitches.
He was subsequently incarcerated at Franklin County Jail from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, 2010, according to a jail representative. Online court records indicate that he was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, simple assault and attempted escape.
He was arraigned before Judge Rock and bail was set at $100,000. The bail conditions were later modified to unsecured and he was released.
Broadwater pleaded no contest in April to simple assault and resisting arrest, both second-degree misdemeanors. The aggravated assault charge was withdrawn and the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office elected not to purse the attempted escape charge.
“I didn’t want to go back to prison,” Broadwater said when asked why he chose to take a plea agreement. “It was a very traumatic experience.”
He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to have no contact with a Trooper Drayer, according to online records.
Online records indicate that the September 2010 incident was not Broadwater’s first run-in with the law, although it was the first in more than 10 years.
He pleaded guilty in 1999 to driving under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance. He also pleaded guilty to DUI alcohol in 1995. Broadwater told Public Opinion that he was also found guilty of possessing marijuana and assaulting someone following an incident in 1991.
Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson Trooper Michele Davis said all media inquiries about Fow are being directed to a sergeant at Troop H Headquarters in Harrisburg. A call to the sergeant was not returned by presstime Tuesday.
Fow’s case will be prosecuted in Franklin County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony W. Forray of the Attorney General’s Criminal Protections Section. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
“I think that’s looking pretty cool. I thought it was done and over with. I didn’t know anything was going to happen,” Broadwater said. “Still, that’s less than what I got, for all the agony I went through.”
Jim Tuttle can be reached at email@example.com or at 262-4754.