CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man will be spending up to seven years in state prison for fighting with and assaulting a police officer.
Walter P. Wilsoncroft, 55, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct, criminal attempt/simple assault, criminal attempt/recklessly endangering another person, and summary harassment, after an incident on Hill Street in Lawrence Township on Aug. 29.
In colloquy court Monday, Wilsoncroft pleaded guilty to both counts of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, two counts of disorderly conduct and a summary harassment before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman and was sentenced to 21 months to seven years in state prison.
Ammerman had rejected the original plea for an 18-month minimum sentence.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Patrol Officer Ethan M. Fritz spotted Wilsoncroft, who was wanted by the Clearfield County’s Sheriff’s office on an active warrant in the Hillsdale area.
When he approached him, Wilsoncroft was outside chopping wood and attending a campfire, but he started to walk away when he saw the officer.
After Fritz ordered him to drop the hatchet because he was going to take him into custody, Wilsoncroft dropped the hatchet and fled on foot.
At one point, the officer was able to grab him by both arms, but he pulled away and fled. After a short pursuit, he was able to grab Wilsoncroft and they both fell to the ground.
As Fritz tried to grab his arms to take Wilsoncroft, who was face down, into custody, Wilsoncroft was able to roll onto his back, and lunged toward the officer pinning him face down on the ground.
Wilsoncroft then placed his arm around the Fritz’s neck and applied pressure forcing his face into the ground near the fire. Later Fritz reported that his face was so close to the flames that he could feel the heat on his cheeks.
Wilsoncroft then reached for Fritz’s belt and tried to get his gun.
During this struggle, the officer said he was able to get his left arm around Wilsoncroft’s neck and “fearing death or serious bodily injury” he told Wilsoncroft that if he let go, “this would be over” because he wouldn’t tell anyone.
Wilsoncroft replied that he wanted Fritz to let go first. As the officer released the pressure on Wilsoncroft, Wilsoncroft also released his hold. After they both let go, Wilsoncroft stood up and fled again.
Due to the loose and steep terrain, which had thick brush and swamp water, Wilsoncroft fell several times, which allowed Fritz to catch up to him.
Fritz yelled for Wilsoncroft to stop and show his hands, but instead, Wilsoncroft turned around and lunged toward him. This time Fritz used his taser incapacitating Wilsoncroft, who then fell to the ground.
Wilsoncroft then stated “I’m done” and Fritz was able to take him into custody.
Fritz suffered an injury to his finger, which was bent downward. This was diagnosed as “mallet finger” and a doctor stated that the tendon was torn and might require surgery, according to the report.