Former cop gets jail for attacking woman

Posted: June 15, 2012

Facebook strikes again.

Damien Walto, the former Philadelphia cop convicted in March of simple assault for attacking a female friend while off duty, blew his chance to stay out of jail in part because of what he said on Facebook after his trial.

The jury acquitted Walto, 32, of the most serious felony charge, aggravated assault, and deadlocked on two misdemeanors — terroristic threats and possession of an instrument of crime.

That led the hockey-loving Walto to do a little celebrating on Facebook before Thursday's sentencing hearing.

"All I do is win. I win at hockey, I win at court," Walto said online, according to Assistant District Attorney William Inden.

"My view was, it demonstrated a lack of remorse, a lack of contrition and an attitude of entitlement," said Inden, who argued that Walto should do one to two years in jail as a result.

After hearing from Inden, Common Pleas Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. sentenced Walto to three to six months in jail followed by 18 months of probation. The judge rejected defense attorney Gerald Stanshine's requests for probation or house arrest.

Berry said that Walto should also be jailed because of the severity of the victim's injuries and the fact that the defendant had attacked two former girlfriends, according to information provided to the court by Inden.

Walto was also ordered to pay more than $8,300 in court costs.

During his trial, Walto, a three-year cop assigned to the 22nd District in North Philadelphia, testified that the bloody facial injuries suffered by his friend Diane Janssen, 26, were the result of her stumbling and tripping after he pushed her away in self-defense.

An argument erupted between the two while they were drinking with friends after a street-hockey tournament at the Tip Top Playground in Northern Liberties on July 17, 2010.

Janssen, who suffered a large knot on her forehead, a swollen-shut eye and bruises and scrapes to her face and body, testified that when she attempted to walk away from the argument Walto grabbed her arm and ponytail. She said he kicked her feet from under her and slammed her to the ground.

"I felt like I got smacked in the face with a bat 14 times," she told the jury.

Berry gave Walto 30 days to report to jail. "Three to six months, he could do that standing on his head," Berry said when Stanshine asked for house arrest. n

Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or deanm@philly.com.

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