A Pennsylvania law enforcement officer is finding himself on the other side of the law
after being arrested by state agents for allegedly threatening to cut off and eat the hands of a campaign worker and for pulling a gun on a journalist.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane this week announced the charges against George David, who is the sheriff of Beaver County, which neighbors Allegheny County – home to Pittsburgh – in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The charges against David, whose office is tasked with policing the Beaver County court system, were recommended by The Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, which began hearing evidence in the case nearly a year ago, according to Kane’s office.
According to the criminal complaint by the Pennsylvania State Police, David threatened a worker involved with the reelection campaigns of several Beaver County officials, including David, back on Nov. 5, 2011, when the worker went to the Democratic campaign headquarters to pick up campaign materials.
Upon arrival at the headquarters, the volunteer approached David and attempted to shake the sheriff’s hand, but David responded by saying, “you [expletive], I heard you talk about me, shake my hand, I’ll cut your [expletive] hands off and I’ll eat them, I’ll cut your hands off,” the criminal complaint states.
During a second incident, on April 16, 2012, David allegedly pulled his service pistol out of its holster, waved it at a reporter who runs an online news site called the Beaver Countian, and threatened to shoot the journalist in the head.
The sheriff was supposedly unhappy about the fact that the journalist was investigating a controversy involving the procurement of uniforms for the sheriff’s deputies.
At one point during the encounter in David’s office, the sheriff pulled out a blackjack from his desk drawer and threatened to beat the reporter, the criminal complaint alleges.
Toward the end of the encounter, David allegedly pulled out his revolver and said, “You start writing [expletive] [expletive] like this I’ll blow your [expletive] brains out too,” the complaint alleges.
“The Journalist was terrified that the Sheriff would follow him out of the courthouse and began running aimlessly and calling for someone to pick him up,” the criminal complaint states.
The reporter eventually contacted Beaver County detectives about the incident.
“It’s not enough for law officers to simply abide by the law,” Attorney General Kane said in a statement. “They must also set a good example for others. Sheriff David failed on both counts. He will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
David faces two counts of terroristic threats, three counts of simple assault, one count of recklessly endangering another person, one count of official oppression, one count of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function, and three counts of intimidation of witnesses or victims.
Court records show that David was arraigned on March 25 in front of Magisterial District Judge Tim Finn. He was subsequently released on $50,000 unsecured bail.
News reports stated that David has been allowed to return to his job at the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, but that he has had to surrender his firearm and blackjack.
David’s preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 1.
In Pennsylvania, county sheriffs don’t generally have arrest powers, rather they are in charge of prisoner transport to and from court.
They and their deputies also handle courthouse security.