AMESBURY — A Nebraska man was sentenced to 18 months in jail after admitting he repeatedly hit a woman while she was driving through the city, an attack witnessed by a local police officer.

James Norwood, 49, of 3220 Paddock Road, Apt. 216D, Omaha, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a single count of assault and battery on a family/household member, according to Newburyport District Court records.  

Judge Peter Doyle sentenced Norwood to 18 months in jail, but suspended all but 60 days for two years. Norwood will be on probation and must remain drug and alcohol free with random screens. He also must not abuse his victim. Norwood was given credit for 40 days already served in jail. 

Officer Shawn O’Brien received word on Sept. 27, about 10:30 p.m., of a domestic incident taking place in a car, according to a police report, O’Brien caught up with the car parked at Cumberland Farms on Elm Street.

“I could see the passenger hitting the driver,” the report said. “The driver flailed her arms trying to block the punches from the passenger, James Norwood.

“I jumped out of the cruiser and approached the driver’s side door. I heard (the victim) say, ‘You hit me.” Then James said, ‘No, you hit me,” O’Brien wrote in his report, adding that the driver’s side window was smashed and bits of glass were on the victim’s shoulder. 

O’Brien quickly handcuffed Norwood, who he said smelled of alcohol. Norwood told O’Brien that the window broke after he slammed the door too hard.

But the victim told O’Brien that they had locked the keys inside the car, prompting Norwood to smash it. 

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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