WINFIELD, Pa. – A Winfield man was taken into custody after a standoff with state police on April 9th, 2017. Troopers are claiming they feared for their life, and the man is claiming self-defense due to the police failing to identify themselves. The police say otherwise.
Richard W. Gniewkowski was found guilty of aggravated assault (felony), simple assault (misdemeanor) and reckless endangerment (2 counts as a misdemeanor) on May 23rd, 2018. Richard is now trying to have his conviction overturned after he was told he would be in a state prison for 21 to 42 months.
What we do know is that Richard was at his home on Stargrille Road in Winfield Township when the state police was called by an alarm company that there was a burglar alarm that had been tripped. Troopers responded to the home, and allegedly knocked several times on the house.
The troopers went around the back side of the house, and saw Richard holding an AR-15. Troopers then drew their guns, and demanded the defendant put down his rifle. The troopers allegedly identified themselves as law enforcement officers a 2nd time.
Richard refused to put down his rifle, so troopers had to circle back around and take cover for what they thought would be a shootout. One trooper ran back to his cruiser and used the PA-system to get the defendant to drop his weapon.
Richard then exited the house and was put into custody freely. The troopers located the rifle which was loaded and ready to fire. Richard and his attorney claim that they never identified themselves as law enforcement and that this was a case of self-defense. The incident ended peacefully. There were no body cameras on any persons at the time of this incident.
According to court reporters, Richard claimed he was on medication at the time and was sleeping. He never heard the alarm go off, but he woke up to hear several person pounding on his doors. He grabbed his weapon for self defense, thinking someone was breaking in.
Attorneys battled out the fight, but recently Richard’s attorney is saying the ADA failed to present any evidence that Richard had a criminal intention to harm officers. According to legal experts, once self-defense is used as a criminal defense, the state must legally disprove of the action. The state reportedly failed to do so in this case.