Richmond officer found guilty in bar assault case

Officer's attorneys plan to appeal
Posted at 5:16 PM, Oct 01, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond police officer was convicted Thursday of an assault that took place last December when he was working off-duty at a bar in Shockoe Slip.

Officer Lance Falkena was found guilty by a Richmond City Circuit Court Judge on one count of misdemeanor assault and battery for his actions the night of Dec. 8, 2019.

The incident happened when Falkena was working in an off-duty capacity at the Southern Railway Taphouse in Shockoe Slip, but he was in uniform.

The interaction, which was caught on surveillance video, showed the victim in the case, Michael Hammond, walking out of the bar while looking down at his phone as he was looking for details for his Uber.

Hammond attempts to walk down a set of stairs, apparently not knowing that patrons are supposed to use a separate ramp.

A group of officers, including Falkena, redirect Hammond towards the ramp but after just a few steps, Falkena is seen grabbing hammond.

After a face-to-face confrontation, Falkena twists Hammond around, and Hammond falls down the stairs, fracturing his ankle.

"I'm trying to walk through the bouncers. I get pushed. And then I'm like, 'What the heck?'" Hammond said. "Then I'm like trying to go the actual right way. And then the video shows the cop literally putting his hand on my shoulder and pulling me back from going the correct way. And then screaming in my face and then throwing me down the stairs."

The defense argued Hammond was getting belligerent and that Falkena was only trying to diffuse the situation. Attorneys contended the fall was accidental.

The judge said that while it may not have been intentional, it was still unnecessary.

Falkena, who was sentenced to 90 days in prison with all 90 days suspended, will be on probation for a year and have to pay restitution to Hammond.

After the verdict, Falkena said he felt very bad that Hammond was physically hurt and it was not his intent.

The officer's attorneys said they plan to appeal the ruling.

"It just makes me feel, like, happy because something is finally actually, finally actually being done," Hammond said after the verdict.

Additionally, Hammond has filed a civil suit against the Tap House and Falkena.

Officials with Richmond Police said Falkena has been placed on leave without pay pending the outcome of the department's administrative investigation.

“It’s unfortunate when these incidents happen. This incident does not reflect the values of the Richmond Police Department,” Chief Gerald Smith wrote.

WTVR CBS 6 has requested a copy of the surveillance video, but was told it may take a few days.



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