Nov 10, 9:05 PM EST

Ex-hero officer acquitted of aggravated assault

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A former police officer honored by the White House before being accused of criminal offenses has been acquitted of aggravated assault on a longtime girlfriend but convicted of a lesser offense.

A Common Pleas Court jury on Monday also acquitted Richard DeCoatsworth of recklessly endangering another person but convicted him of simple assault, The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1u3lDj9 ) reported.

Prosecutors had earlier also accused DeCoatsworth of having raped two prostitutes at gunpoint but dropped those charges in September, which allowed his release from jail.

Defense attorney L. George Parry said that, considering all the serious charges his client had faced, the lone misdemeanor conviction was "a good outcome." He said he did not expect that DeCoatsworth, who sat next to first lady Michelle Obama at a State of the Union address, would face further jail time.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Stinsman said he believed there was "credible and strong evidence" for an aggravated assault conviction, but "I'm going to respect the verdict."

DeCoatsworth had been charged with assaulting the girlfriend during a heated argument in May 2013 in the Port Richmond row house they shared. She said he choked her and punched her in the mouth, but he said he accidentally hit her while trying to knock away a brick she was brandishing as he tried to get into his car.

"There were some good times and some bad times and some horrible times" during their stormy relationship, he said.

DeCoatsworth had been honored after being shot in the face in 2007 pursuing a suspect, and he sat next to the first lady at the State of the Union address two years later. But complaints mounted about his use of force after he returned to work, when he shot a motorcyclist during a scuffle.

A previous lawyer said DeCoatsworth, who left the police force in 2011, was battling a painkiller addiction stemming from his injury.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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