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Lancaster police officer accused of falsifying statements while under oath

LANCASTER, Pa.–A Lancaster City police officer was arraigned Wednesday after investigators with the Attorney General’s office say he perjured himsel...

LANCASTER, Pa.–A Lancaster City police officer was arraigned Wednesday after investigators with the Attorney General’s office say he perjured himself while under oath while testifying during a summary trial in 2014.

Raymond M. Corrl, 54, a sergeant for the Lancaster City Bureau of Police, is charged with perjury, false swearing, official oppression and simple assault.  He remains free on $20,000 bail.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred on March 8, 2014. Corrl arrested Steven Widdowson, 41,  for public drunkenness at the intersection of North Queen and East Chestnut Street in Lancaster city. Widdowson’s friend, Tami Jones, was also cited and arrested for public drunkenness.

Corrl testified under oath in July 2014 that he witnessed the couple staggering from side to side–the entire width of the sidewalk, according to the criminal complaint.  Corrl also testified he took Widdowson to the ground and punched him in the face while he was on the ground.

In his version, Widdowson testified that he and Jones were walking and chatting when they spotted the police cruiser behind them. Police approached them as they got close to the intersection of Chestnut and North Queen Street. That’s when Widdowson said there were no conversations, there were no questions and he was forcibly thrown to the ground and punched, according to the criminal complaint.

Detectives with the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office obtained video recordings from the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition cameras which contradicted Corrl’s testimony. Video footage from the case showed Widdowson was in fact walking normally prior to being taken into custody. He also showed no signs of staggering when he was handcuffed behind his back and walking toward a police transport, investigators said. Further video footage captured during processing at the police station also showed Widdowson did not appear to be intoxicated, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities say Corrl perjured himself during testimony at Widdowson’s summary trial and made false statements while under oath. They also claim Corrl, while acting in an official capacity, subjected Widdowson to arrest, detention, search seizure and mistreatment.

Widdowson filed a lawsuit against Corll in June 2015. The lawsuit was settled out of court in Oct. 2015.

Corll is currently on paid administrative leave. He has been employed by the Lancaster City Police Department since 2000.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 8.

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray issued the following statement:

On March 8, 2014 at 1:50 AM an incident occurred that resulted in Steve Widdowson being arrested by Sgt. Ray Corll and charged with Public Drunkenness. During the course of the arrest, Sgt. Corll struck Mr. Widdowson. Widdowson filed a complaint with the Lancaster Bureau of Police (LBP) alleging that the force used by Corll was excessive. The Lancaster Police Bureau investigated and concluded that Mr. Widdowson’s complaint had merit because the force used by Corll was not permitted by Lancaster Police Bureau guidelines. On March 31, 2014, Corll was disciplined. At that point our Police Bureau, focusing on Mr. Widdowson’s complaint, considered the matter concluded.
Independent of this LBP disciplinary action against Sgt. Corll, the summary charges of Public Drunkenness filed against Widdowson continued through the legal system. A trial on those charges was held on July 1, 2014 at which time a Magisterial District Justice found Mr. Widdowson guilty of Public Drunkenness.
On July 9, 2014, Mr. Widdowson appealed this conviction to the Court of Common Pleas. After reviewing the case, Assistant District Attorneys determined that the verdict could not be sustained and the charge was withdrawn.
On November 2, 2015, the District Attorney notified City Police of an official investigation into this arrest. In response, Sgt. Corll was placed on leave pending resolution of the District Attorney’s investigation. The District Attorney, in order to avoid a possible conflict unrelated to the fact that the investigation involved police, referred the matter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney General.
On February 29, 2016, I was informed by the Attorney General that charges against Officer Corll were being filed.
Our entire Administration views this matter with grave concern. We believe that the behavior alleged is serious and unacceptable. This is not in keeping with the standards we set for our Police, nor with the standards City Police meet and exceed every day.
Sgt. Corll is not performing, and has not performed any police duties as part of the Lancaster Bureau of Police since November 2, 2015. This status will continue until disposition of the criminal charges filed against him. The City Police and the Administration have cooperated and continue to cooperate completely with the investigation and prosecution of these charges.