Witnesses: Dewey Beach officer punched man on stretcher 5 times

GEORGETOWN — Nine witnesses — six first responders, three civilians — were interviewed prior to charges filed against a 39-year-old Dewey Beach police officer in connection with an alleged on-duty assault last summer, according to documents.

On Monday in Sussex County, Gregory W. Lynch Jr., of Milford, was indicted on second degree assault and perjury counts and official misconduct for an alleged interaction with an injured 26-year-old man on Aug. 10.
The matter is scheduled for case review on Dec. 16.

In a probable cause affidavit, Delaware Department of Justice Special Investigator John Ziemba reported that he interviewed three Dewey Beach PD seasonal officers and one part-time officer, two Rehoboth Beach EMTs and three civilians who were at the scene in the area of Bellevue Street and Coastal Highway.
Attempts to reach Officer Lynch and Dewey Beach PD officials for comment Wednesday were not immediately successful.

The DOJ concluded a Tuesday news release announcing charges by noting that “an indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt.
“Defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a jury trial at which the State bears the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The DOJ said it opted to discontinue prosecuting charges against the injured man two days after the incident.

Officer Lynch earlier filed a probable cause affidavit for an arrest warrant in the case, according to authorities.
Deputy Attorney General David Skoranski in the Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust is handling the case.

Incident details
Police and EMTs were called at around 12:11 a.m. “to assist a victim who had lost consciousness and sustained an injury to the back of his head,” the Delaware Department of Justice said Tuesday.
The man was injured when he fell and struck the back of his head on a light pole, the affidavit said. Witnesses told police the man briefly lost consciousness “and that his eyes were rolled to the back of his head.”

While the man reportedly did not want to go to the hospital, authorities said he was convinced to walk to a stretcher (with the help of others due to the injury and intoxication level, papers said) for examination by EMTs.
“The witnesses advised that at no time was the victim physically combative,” the investigator wrote in court documents.

According to the affidavit, Officer Lynch intervened when the wounded man failed to move his leg when told to put it on a stretcher.
Investigation found that the officer allegedly “walked up to the victim and grabbed the leg that was still on the ground and put the victim’s leg on the stretcher.

“The victim sat up on the stretcher and Ofc. Lynch pushed the victim back on the stretcher and punched him in the face several times with a closed fist.”
Witnesses estimated that five punches were thrown and that Officer Lynch “was up on the stretcher while he was striking the victim” and “officers on scene advised that they had to hold the stretcher down, so it didn’t completely flip.”

Officers on scene
Also, “Officers on scene advised that they did not get involved in the physical assault of the victim, because they did not feel that the assault was justified,” according to the affidavit,
With the help of another officer, according to investigation, Officer Lynch handcuffed the man to the stretcher.

“Once the victim was handcuffed, Ofc. Lynch grabbed the victim from the neck and chin area and pulled him into the ambulance.
According to witnesses, the injured man “put his hands up in an attempt to defend himself and protect his face from being struck.
“The witnesses indicate they did not see the victim’s hands around Ofc. Lynch’s throat.”

Witnesses disputed the officer’s probable cause claim that the injured man put his hands around his throat.
Witnesses said the injured man “spit blood out of his mouth after he was struck but they did not feel it was directed at Ofc. Lynch.

“Two of the civilian witnesses … did advise that the victim did spit blood on Ofc. Lynch after he was assaulted.”
The man was transported to Beebe Hospital in Lewes, where he was treated for diagnosed concussion, broken nose, multiple hematomas and lacerations to his face, according to documents. The investigator said a broken nose will not be properly aligned again.

Officer Lynch filed charges of strangulation and two counts of offensive touching of a law enforcement officer, papers said.
The injured man was arrested after treatment and release from the hospital. He was held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown on bail.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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