Hearing a juror say the words, “not guilty” brought tears to the eyes of ex-NYPD 49th Precinct commanding officer Keith Walton.
Walton, the precinct’s CO prior to his November 6, 2016 arrest for felony sex abuse, forcible touching and official misconduct, was found not guilty on the abuse and touching counts Friday, October 19 and not guilty for an official misconduct charge on Monday, October 22.
While Walton’s appearance in the Bronx Hall of Justice was brief, his ordeal over these charges, that he’s now cleared of, spanned almost two years.
Dated court documents alleged that Walton instructed the defendant, a female officer assigned to the stationhouse, to come into his office and then forcefully pulled her hair and attempted to kiss her on the mouth.
Walton then placed his hand on the alleged victim’s genital area over her clothing, according to the complaint.
Earlier in 2018, Walton was offered a plea deal that would leave him without a criminal record if he agreed to leave the NYPD, according to Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett, whom handled the case.
“I cannot stand before a judge and admit to something I did not do,” he said at a prior hearing on Tuesday, August 21.
At that time he also explained the financial burdens resulting from his court case, mentioning that he has 250 hours of overtime still sitting on his desk in the 49th.
The ‘speedy’ trial formally began on Wednesday, October 3, wrapping up just under three weeks later.
Judge Barrett also addressed the trial’s bulkiness to jurors, saying that it “had its challenges and difficulties.”
Also filling the left half of that courtroom were Walton’s supporters, such as retired CO of the 49th Precinct, Rick James.
“I was leaving just when he was coming in, and he did great things for that precinct,” James said. “We stood with him in 2016 and we certainly stand with him now,” the 31-year force veteran added.
Some of Walton’s supporters criticized District Attorney Darcel Clark’s commentary about the case when she was earlier quoted as saying, “By his degrading behavior, he abused the trust of his officers, as well as that of the residents of the 49th Precinct.”
Councilman Andy King, a Walton supporter celebrated the not guilty verdict by literally looking up to the sky, saying “hallelujah!”
“I’m elated to see it’s all over,” Walton said after the verdict was released, noting that the 12-member jury was made up 2:1 women to men.
Walton’s attorney, Xavier Donaldson said that he was glad to see the system work in his client’s case.
“The first thing I felt when I heard the verdict was simple happiness, his reputation is restored now,” Donaldson said.
As far as Walton’s career goes, he had previously stated interest in returning to the NYPD during his trial, pursuing his dream of becoming the department’s first African American commissioner from Harlem.
“In my time of hiatus I’ve been able to see a lot of the city. There’s a lot I liked and there’s a lot that could be improved on and all I want to do is get back to working on that,” Walton said in August.
Leaving court on October 22, Walton was less sure if that’s the path he intends to follow.
“We’ll see what happens, right now I just want to keep helping people,” Walton said.