A Pennsylvania state trooper was arrested after he allegedly abused his position to force his former girlfriend into being held for several days in a psychiatric facility following their breakup.
Ronald K. Davis, 37, was arrested Thursday following a suspension from the state police force after prosecutors said he claimed the woman, identified as “M.F.,” was suicidal, petitioned for her involuntary commitment, then physically restrained her before she was taken to a hospital.
Staff at the hospital’s psychiatric facility determined that M.F. was not suicidal, and once she shared context around text messages she’d exchanged with Davis — as well as accusing the married trooper of controlling behavior before their breakup — a criminal investigation began, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said Davis intentionally used “the system to locate, control and assault the victim, rather than to protect her from self-harm.” He is charged with strangulation, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and official oppression. Attorneys representing him did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, and he is due back in court on Oct. 2.
According to Davis’ criminal complaint, he went to fellow police officers on Aug. 21 while off-duty to seek their assistance after claiming that M.F. had been acting “erratically” and that he received a text message from her which said she was going to commit suicide and drive off a cliff.
“My mental health doesn’t matter I’m a useless old stupid uneducated piece of s****, if this is where I’m supposed to die then so be it,” the text message said, according to the complaint. “I don’t even have any clothes you [held] them hostage. Oh well I’ll just do it in style naked have a nice life.”
Davis allegedly asked the officers if they could respond to her home to involuntarily commit her, but he was told to contact the county’s crisis intervention team instead. He did so, identifying himself as a state trooper and using his official email in spite of being off-duty, the complaint says.
Officers were sent to M.F.’s home for a welfare check, but they couldn’t find her. When the involuntary mental health commitment was approved, Davis — still off-duty and in plain clothes — took a copy and allegedly told officers, “I’ll take care of it myself.”
While driving to M.F.’s home, Davis reportedly contacted Kerry Teter, a civilian, and asked him for help finding her.
In an interview with police, Teter told officers that Davis told him that M.F. was threatening to kill herself and that there was a warrant but did not go into detail about it, the complaint says.
Davis and Teter found M.F. in a picnic area, where Davis confronted her and then grabbed her and carried her to his car when she tried to get away, the complaint said. As Davis “restrained” M.F., he told Teter to record it, Teter told authorities, according to the complaint.
The footage, which was released by the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office, shows Davis sitting on top of his ex-girlfriend as she asks repeatedly why she is being restrained and tries to free herself. She can also be heard saying he had tackled her, and at one point, as she nearly frees herself, Davis pulls both her legs out from under her, forcing her to the ground. She strikes him several times as she struggles to get away, then Davis drives her to the ground, holding her down with his chest. M.F. can be heard saying she cannot breathe.
“[M.F] appears to genuinely lack understanding on why she is being restrained,” the complaint says. “While being restrained, Davis can be heard informing her that the police will explain it to her when they arrive.”
Teter told police that she appeared to be unarmed, and he believed she was not going to harm herself, the complaint says.
Officers then arrived to enforce the involuntary mental health commitment, taking her to a hospital where she was initially treated for physical injuries. Police attributed the bruises on her face and body to Davis pushing her to the ground. She was then taken to a psychiatric facility at the hospital.
Davis allegedly told the responding officers that M.F. had been texting him suicidal messages throughout the morning and that when he found her, he asked her what she was doing to do, claiming she responded, “What I have to do.”
But what Davis left out was that there were no suicidal or homicidal threats in the messages and that M.F.’s comments “appeared to be hypothetical in nature,” the complaint says. Davis also allegedly texted M.F. that he would frame her.
While committed, M.F. cooperated with medical personnel and displayed no signs of suicidal or homicidal thoughts, authorities said.
Five days later, she told officers in a police interview that she and Davis had broken up after dating for about four months. Toward the end of their relationship, the two began to argue about “ideological opinions and differences in roles within the relationship,” she said, according to the complaint.
According to the document, M.F. told officers that Davis had exerted control over her during their relationship, such as preventing her from accessing her personal belongings.
She also told officers that throughout their relationship, Davis threatened to “paint her as crazy,” adding that he told her “I know the law,” according to the document.
Days following the interview, M.F shared photographs of messages between her and Davis that allegedly showed arguments leading up to her commitment, including one in which Davis appeared to be jealous over one of her previous relationships.
The full picture of the domestic dispute showed that M.F. was not an immediate danger to herself, as Davis had claimed, authorities have charged.
“Taken in that context, the text revealed her frustration with Trooper Davis and his controlling behavior (and her desire to break off the relationship), not a true desire to harm herself,” the document says. ”This omission by Trooper Davis was critical in the securing of the Involuntary Mental Health Commitment.”
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.