Pennsylvania state trooper lied to force ex-girlfriend into psych hospital for 5 days, DA says

Warning: This story addresses allegations of domestic violence.

A state trooper in Pennsylvania is facing criminal charges after prosecutors said he abused his power by assaulting an ex-girlfriend and falsely committing her to a psychiatric facility late last month.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Ronald Keith Davis with strangulation, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and official oppression in connection to the Aug. 21 incident involving a former lover, the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office reported.

USA TODAY is not naming the victim to protect her identity.

Davis, a nearly nine-year veteran with the department in the south central part of The Keystone State was arrested Thursday, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by USA TODAY.

Married and suspended without pay

Authorities in Pennsylvania said a state trooper abused his power and had his ex-girlfriend committed to a psychiatric facility for five days. This stock image shows a woman in handcuffs.
Authorities in Pennsylvania said a state trooper abused his power and had his ex-girlfriend committed to a psychiatric facility for five days. This stock image shows a woman in handcuffs.

A Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson told USA TODAY Davis, assigned at Troop L in Jonestown, less than 30 miles northeast of the state capital of Harrisburg, was suspended without pay after his arrest.

Prosecutors said Davis, 37, is married and lives with his family in Dauphin County. His arrest affidavit has his address listed in nearby Williamstown.

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'An intimate relationship'

According to the affidavit, Davis had "an intimate relationship" with the victim and obtained an involuntary commitment for her under the Mental Health Procedures Act.

On the day of the incident, Davis − who was off duty − reported to fellow troopers his ex was suicidal, court papers show.

Without waiting for other troopers, prosecutors said, Davis went with an acquaintance who is not in law enforcement and used substantial force upon the woman.

The acquaintance, prosecutors said, recorded the incident.

Footage released by the DA's office shows a man, identified by prosecutors as Davis, restraining his ex-girlfriend in what appears to be a wooded area along a stone-gravel road and then assaulting and strangling her.

In it, the woman reveals she met Davis four months ago, and continually asks him, "What is wrong with you?"

"I don't need help, I just need to get away from you," the woman says in the video as Davis sits on top of her as she lays on her back in gray gravel. "This is not normal, I don't care what anybody says. Can I please stand up.... people like you should not have any form of power."

Ronald K. Davis
Ronald K. Davis

At one point Davis tackles her, her head hits the ground and she is heard saying, "I can't breathe" as she begs him to "let her go."

Footage goes on to show the pair back on their feet, with her now facing a vehicle repeatedly saying, "What did I do? I didn't do anything wrong!"

The video, as well as text communications with Davis show the woman was "rational and the involuntary commitment was improper," prosecutors said.

The complaint goes on to say as a result of Davis' actions, the woman was involuntarily committed for five days.

On Thursday, during a his court arraignment in Elizabethville, Magisterial District Judge Rebecca Margerum reviewed the complaint, watched the video, and heard from Davis. After the hearing, prosecutors said, the judge found "no condition or combination of conditions was sufficient to protect the public from Davis."

The judge remanded Davis to jail without bail.

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Trooper remains incarcerated

Jail records show Davis remained jailed Tuesday night.

Davis' Attorney Jay Nigrini could not immediately be reached by USA TODAY but told the Associated Press he filed a motion to have his client released on bail.

“We are confident once all of the facts come to light, Mr. Davis committed no crime but was seeking to protect a troubled young woman who was in need of immediate medical attention,” Nigrini told the AP.

Troopers said Davis is slated for a preliminary hearing on his charges Oct. 2.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline allows you to speak confidentially with trained advocates online or by the phone, which they recommend for those who think their online activity is being monitored by their abuser (800-799-7233). They can help survivors develop a plan to achieve safety for themselves and their children.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior correspondent for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ronald Davis, Pennsylvania state trooper, arrested domestic claim