Southwest Philly mom acquitted of charges for barring police from home

Southwest Philly mom acquitted of charges for barring police from home
Sam Newhouse

A Southwest Philadelphia mom who barred detectives searching for her son from entering her family home had disorderly conduct charges against her tossed by a judge on Tuesday.

“For these people to do this to me, I’m so angry,” said Nicol Newman, 48, after a judge granted her lawyer’s motion for acquittal.

Newman was at her home on the 7000 block of Wheeler Street on March 9 when police arrived with an arrest warrant on burglary charges for her son, John Newman.

After she said he was not inside, Det. Timothy McCool asked her to let them search the home for her son. Newman refused, barring the door with her hands, and saying police had an arrest warrant, not a search warrant.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth, McCool cuffed Newman. She was arrested, held overnight, and charged with disorderly conduct.

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“I am a fighter, but I don’t pick fights. I fight when I have to,” Newman said after being acquitted.

Det. Timothy McCool testified at a hearing in Newman’s case that, in fact, the arrest warrant he had did give him the right to enter Newman’s home.

“She said, ‘You need a search warrant to search the house.’ We all know that’s absolutely incorrect,” McCool testified. “We can search anywhere John Newman may be secreting himself, under the kitchen sink, maybe not in a drawer.”

McCool testified that Newman “yelled” at him while he was on the steps of Newman’s home arguing with her behind the screen door as a crowd of neighbors gathered behind him and argued he could not charge her with “resisting arrest” if she was not under arrest.

“I believed she was possibly warning John Newman. Our element of surprise is over at that point. I don’t want to get hurt, I don’t want the team to get hurt,” he testified. “I wasn’t gonna get into a war of semantics.”

Newman was cuffed by McCool, who then radioed for a supervisor and a police wagon, he said.

“She was passively resisting. We might have had to taze her or something,” he testified, chuckling, when asked why he called a supervisor.

Newman’s attorney Michael Coard argued for about five minutes that Newman was not guilty of disorderly conduct due to lack of intent and the fact that her actions were all from inside her screen door, before Judge William Austin Meehan tossed the charges.

Judge Meehan gave Newman a stern warning after his ruling.

“It’s not that an offense wasn’t committed here, they just didn’t charge the right one,” Meehan told her. “If someone comes to your door with a warrant, don’t get banged up yourself. Let ‘em in.”

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Newman now is looking to get her record expunged and considering a lawsuit while dealing with the emotional aftermath of the incident.

“I had so much respect for police. Now I have to go to therapy to re-balance myself,” she said.

Newman’s son was arrested one day after his mother’s confrontation with police and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 19.