Former Hickory officer found guilty of 'unreasonable force' to serve no prison time

Former Hickory officer found guilty of 'unreasonable force' to serve no prison time

HICKORY, N.C. — A former Hickory police officer who was found guilty of using unreasonable force will get no prison time.

In January, a federal jury found Robert George guilty of using excessive force.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to four years probation and will have to pay a $23,000 fine.

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Channel 9 obtained the surveillance video of the excessive force, which became the key evidence to finding George guilty of using unreasonable force.

The video from 2013 shows George's police cruiser pulling in with Chelsea Doolittle handcuffed in the back seat.

About 15 seconds later, viewers can see George rip Doolittle out of the vehicle and slam her to the ground.

Past coverage:

Doolittle said George didn't like the way she parked her car in a parking lot on Union Square in downtown Hickory.

He asked for her registration and when she couldn't find it, he asked to search her car.

She reportedly didn’t sustain the injuries until George took her to police headquarters for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Prosecutors said she was handcuffed and slammed to the ground by George at police headquarters.

The resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges were later dropped.

George's attorney told the jury that Doolittle’s legs went limp after George had to lift her out of his patrol car after repeatedly asking her to get out.

George's supervisor testified the video taken by a camera outside the police department showed George throwing her to the ground.

Moments later, George reportedly placed a spit mask over her head as she sat injured in a holding cell.

That supervisor said paperwork filled out by George did not accurately describe what happened.

His attorney told the jury that Doolittle was belligerent, cursed at George and smelled of alcohol during her arrest.

Prosecutors said George described Doolittle’s injuries as a bloody nose, which is something they said he also told Doolittle’s father, who at one time, was also a Hickory police officer.

Her father, Brian Doolittle, testified earlier this year.

"To me, he went overboard,” Brian Doolittle told Channel 9 outside of the courtroom. “I mean, he went way overboard. I don't know from what my understanding that he would have to throw, hit or whatever he did."

A former officer testified that the force George used during the arrest was both “unreasonable and unnecessary."

George was fired after the incident.

A federal judge considered all factors before submitting a sentence. He looked at the fact that George had already been fired from the Hickory Police Department after the incident, losing his pension. He was also let go from another job for being a felon.

While both parties admitted that this incident has changed their lives forever, the judge opted to give George a lighter sentence. Instead of six to seven years of probation, he was given four.

Chelsea Doolittle and her attorney did not want to comment after the sentencing, because they still have a civil case pending in Catawba County. That resumes in December.