The conviction and sentence of a former Lancaster city police officer last year on charges of assault and lying under oath will stand, the state Superior Court ruled Tuesday.
Sgt. Ray Corll, 57, was convicted in March 2017 of felony perjury and misdemeanor simple assault, false swearing and official oppression.
The state appeals court denied Corll’s claim that his conviction was unfair and his sentence excessive.
Charges stemmed from the arrest and prosecution of a city resident for public drunkenness on March 8, 2014.
He was sentenced by President Judge Dennis Reinaker to seven to 23 1/2 months in prison, plus two years probation.
The perjury charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine, according to LNP records. The other charges each carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The Superior Court denied Corll’s arguments in a 24-page opinion.
Within the standard range
According to the Lancaster County district attorney’s office, his sentence “was within the standard range and that all appropriate factors, including a background check, were considered.”
The court said the jury’s decision should stand, based on video evidence of the incident, plus testimony from Steve Widdowson and Tami Jones — the man Corll arrested and a woman Widdowson was walking with at the time — and another police officer that “conflicted with Corll’s version of events.”
Corll also argued Reinaker should have instructed the jury on use of non-deadly force in self-defense situations.
But, because Corll offered no evidence that he acted in self-defense, Reinaker “was not required to give the use-of-force instruction,” the district attorney’s office said.
Attorney General filed charges
Corll arrested Widdowson for public drunkenness near the intersection of North Queen and East Chestnut streets in Lancaster.
He testified under oath that Widdowson was intoxicated, staggering and unaware of his surroundings. Video from Lancaster Coalition cameras in the area showed Widdowson and Jones walking normally.
Corll also testified that he punched Widdowson in the face during the arrest.
The district attorney’s office opened the investigation. The state Attorney General’s office filed charges against Corll.
Widdowson’s charges stemming from his March 2014 arrest were dismissed, and he sued Corll, the Lancaster Bureau of Police and the City of Lancaster, claiming Corll used excessive force and that the city knew its officers “were regularly involved in incidents involving the excessive use of force.”
The case was settled out of court in September 2015, with Widdowson getting $150,000.
6 civil lawsuits
Corll was sworn in as a city police officer in 2000, LNP records show.
He has been listed as a defendant in six civil lawsuits, including an incident in which four men claimed city police officers — including Corll — used excessive force to break up an off-campus party near Franklin & Marshall College in 2004, and a woman who said Corll injured her during a traffic stop altercation in 2011.
Settlements on those two cases totaled more than $500,000.
A former president of the city police union, Corll helped sponsor the city’s “Shop With a Cop” program, designed to familiarize children with the police force.