Center Township officer charged after man died while helping shooting victim appears in court

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — A Center Township police officer who is charged after a man died while helping a shooting victim appeared in court on Thursday.

We heard from Officer John Hawk’s legal team for the first time since he was charged in the death of Kenneth Vinyard.

>> Charges filed against off-duty Center Township officer after man died while helping shooting victim

“He was just trying to do what he was trained to do, naturally you never want a situation to end the way that it did he absolutely has remorse,” Hawk’s attorney, Stephen Colafella, said.

Inside the courtroom, he showed no emotion even as body camera footage showed his alleged crimes. The attorney general’s office is charging him with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault among other charges.

Vinyard was a bystander to a shooting at the Walmart in Monaca in 2022. Video shows Hawk, acting off-duty, leg sweeping Vinyard to the ground where he ultimately died.

“To suggest he couldn’t have been acting within the scope of his job as a police officer that he’s been trained to do, a job he’s been doing for 13 years, an incident that happens in his community that he policies I have problems with that.”

Colafella believes his client used responsible force and plans to show what he says is the full picture of what led up to the leg sweep at trial.

As for Vinyard’s family, there was a lot of emotion as they left court unable to comment.

But the words his sister told Channel 11 last year still ring true as Hawk is not behind bars for these charges.

“Nothing is going to bring him back, but this cop needs justice for my brother. He needs to pay for what he did to him and he’s walking around free and my brother is in the ground,” Deborah Little, Vinyard’s sister, said.

Hawk is still employed at Center Township Police Department, but is on administrative leave without pay.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW