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Former Pevely police officer on probation after assaulting prisoner

A federal judge also ordered former Cpl. Robert Ryan Watson to surrender his license to be a police officer

PEVELY, Mo. — A federal judge has sentenced a former Pevely police officer to five years of probation for shoving and choking a prisoner in April 2019 inside a booking area-- an incident that was caught on surveillance cameras.

Initially, Jefferson County Prosecutor Trisha Stefanski charged Cpl. Robert Ryan Watson, then 28, with misdemeanor assault, but dropped that charge when federal prosecutors took the case.

In June, United States Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah sentenced Watson to five years of probation along with 150 hours of community service, cognitive-behavioral treatment, a $9,000 fine and ordered him to surrender his license to be a police officer.

Watson’s attorney, Travis Noble, said he believes several factors leaned in his client’s favor with the judge.

“There was no injury to the individual and I don't believe the alleged victim was the person who came forward,” Noble said. “He chose not to speak at the sentencing.

“I'm not aware of any impact statement. And normally in these cases, restitution is required. There was no restitution order because there was no injury to him, so he didn't have any medical bills, or things of that nature. Other factors were his length of service on the police department, his years in law enforcement, the fact that he never had any issues and was overall, a decorated officer, up until this one incident.”

Surveillance video first shows Watson standing behind a desk at the Pevely Police Department's booking area, interacting with inmate Ryan Bossum, who was sitting on the other side. He was being booked for violating a court order. Watson then got up, walked around the desk and choked Bossum from behind.

The video ended with Watson dragging the man across the floor, shoving him into a jail cell and slamming the door.

RELATED: Pevely officer fired after accusation of choking, shoving suspect during booking process

Court documents state that Watson admitted to the April 23 assault, but believed his actions were justified due to Bossum not following his commands.

A Pevely police officer told Capt. Larry Miller, who was the department’s acting chief at the time, about the incident. Miller then asked the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department to investigate. Miller suspended Watson without pay on May 7, 2019. The town’s Board of Aldermen voted to fire Watson and another officer, Wayne Casey, who was sitting at a desk in the booking area when the assault happened.

Police said the victim was insulting Watson just before Watson assaulted him.

Watson had worked for the Pevely department since November 2016; the other officer had been hired about a year before his termination.

The Pevely police department has about 14 officers in a town of about 5,500 people.

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