A Philadelphia jury returned a split verdict Monday in the trial of a former SEPTA police officer accused of roughing up and falsely arresting a nurse after a Christmas 2013 argument in a Suburban Station doughnut shop.
The Common Pleas Court jury of six men and six women deliberated about two hours before finding Douglas Ioven guilty of misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment and official oppression involving the arrest of Muibat Williamson.
The jury acquitted Ioven, 44, of simple assault and obstruction of administration of law.
The assault count involved Williamson's allegation that Ioven stepped on her foot after cutting in line at a Dunkin' Donuts shop in the concourse and later banged her head into an ATM trying to apprehend her. The obstruction charge involved arresting Williamson to prevent her from filing a complaint against him with SEPTA superiors.
Ioven's face reddened as the verdict was announced, but he did not speak and did not comment afterward. Ioven elected not to testify in his defense.
Defense attorney Joseph Silvestro Jr. said he was "disappointed with the verdict, although we respect the jury's attentiveness and their decision. We're going to take the time to evaluate whether we have additional avenues open to us."
Judge Anne Marie Coyle let Ioven remain free on $3,000 bail until he is sentenced May 13.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock said Ioven could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, although state sentencing guidelines recommend probation.
Earlier Monday, Coyle granted Silvestro's motion for judgment of acquittal on two felony charges: witness intimidation and retaliation. Wellbrock conceded there was not enough evidence for the counts to go to the jury.
The confrontation between Ioven and Williamson began about 8:20 a.m. Christmas 2013 when they were inside the Dunkin' Donuts in the Suburban Station concourse.
Williamson, 54, a nurse at Einstein Medical Center and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, testified that she was waiting for a train home after a night shift at Einstein and wanted some coffee when Ioven cut in line and stepped on her foot as he brushed past her to leave.
Williamson said that she confronted Ioven and demanded an apology, and that he refused.
One witness testified that she put herself between the arguing pair, reminding them that it was Christmas, and heard Ioven angrily tell Williamson: "Next time, move out of the way."
Minutes later, as Williamson knocked on the door of SEPTA's concourse police station to file a complaint, she said, Ioven cursed at and chased her. She accused Ioven of banging her head against an ATM machine, handcuffing her, and charging her with disorderly conduct.
In his closing argument to the jury, Silvestro accused Williamson of exaggerating what had happened to improve her chances of winning a significant monetary award in her civil lawsuit against Ioven and SEPTA.
Silvestro said the video inside the Dunkin' Donuts shop does not show Ioven step on Williamson's foot as he brushed by her. He said Williamson should have ignored the encounter and should have said, "Live and let live."
"This all happened because Muibat Williamson decided that her value system had to be imposed on Doug Ioven," Silvestro told the jury.
Wellbrock told the jury that all Williamson wanted was an apology and "some basic human decency."
"Does 'Next time, move out of the way' sound like somebody who didn't do anything wrong?" he asked.
Wellbrock argued that Ioven did not respond when Williamson asked if he was in line at the doughnut shop and didn't apologize for brushing by her as he left with his coffee and doughnuts.
During two days of testimony last week, a retired SEPTA police sergeant told the jury that, after the incident, Ioven told him, " 'I think I screwed up because I thought she was a homeless person, but she was a regular person.' "