Embattled former Ward 22 Alderman Drew King pled guilty to third degree assault last week, but he appears likely to avoid jail time.
King, who resigned March 1 under heavy pressure from community members, was arrested in December — once for allegedly assaulting a woman who identified herself as his girlfriend and then twice for violating a protective order in attempts to make contact with her. Until the guilty plea, King had maintained his innocence. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
At a pre-trial hearing on April 12, King pled guilty to assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor charge, according to the New Haven Superior Court Clerk’s Office. Two other charges from that altercation, disorderly conduct and unlawful restraint in the second degree, were nolled, meaning they will remain on King’s record for 13 months and then will be dismissed.
The charges stem from a Dec. 22 incident in which King allegedly beat Kia Williams, 24, with a stick after she refused to give him a “Georgia Hot” hot dog. The altercation occurred in a Dixwell house owned by King, 55, who has said that he was attacked by Williams because of his attempts to evict her and other tenants who were abusing illegal drugs in the house.
King also faced charges of violating a protective order stemming from two arrests on Dec. 29 and 30, but those charges were nolled as well. For the assault charge, King was given a suspended sentence of one year in prison, meaning he will not have to serve the time as long as he complies with the conditions of his plea. Pursuant to his plea bargain, King also faces two years of conditional discharge, during which he must not have any contact with Williams.
William Bixby, who lives next door to the house at which the altercation took place, said King told him on Monday that “the whole thing had gone away.”
But although King’s guilty plea will likely allow the former alderman to avoid incarceration, it comes as something of a surprise because King has long maintained his innocence, even after resigning from the Board of Aldermen.
While some evidence against King was indisputable — a police officer happened to be present at the time that King showed up to see Williams, in violation of the protective order — the credibility of some of the witnesses who claimed King was the aggressor in the quarrel with Williams has been brought into doubt, suggesting that King might have had at least a reasonable chance of fighting the charges.
In January, neighbors described some of the residents of the house — whom a local police officer described as a “difficult population” — as troublemakers. In an interview, one eyewitness gave contradictory accounts of the Dec. 22 incident. And speaking to the News on the condition of anonymity, a self-described former crack dealer who said he witnessed the altercation said King was “set up” and did not hit Williams.
King, who chaired the Board’s Public Safety Committee, will be replaced on the Board of Aldermen by Greg Morehead, who defeated three other candidates in a special election on Monday. Ward 22 includes part of the Dixwell neighborhood as well as Silliman College, Timothy Dwight College, Morse College and Ezra Stiles College.