Skateboarder Files Lawsuit Against the Pennsylvania State Police, Alleging Excessive Use of Force and False Arrest

Aug 28, 2015, 19:19 ET from Williams Cuker Berezofsky

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Christopher Siennick rides a skateboard in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He doesn't own a car, his transportation is a custom four-wheel longboard.

In the early morning hours of May 16, twenty-five year old Siennick was riding his longboard home from work. According to a federal civil rights complaint filed by Williams Cuker Berezofsky attorney Gerald Williams in court yesterday, two Pennsylvania State Troopers, Michael Trotta and Ryan Luckenbaugh, drove by the skateboarder and yelled "get off the street, faggot."

The troopers then approached Sienneck, confronted him and then struck with a baton and Tasered him twice. He was then handcuffed, pepper sprayed in his eyes, and kicked in the head and face causing pain and temporary blindness according to the complaint.

"The reason we need police is to enforce the law, not break it themselves or enforce their own version," says Sienneck's attorney Williams.

Sienneck was charged with 14 misdemeanors and felonies including aggravated and simple assault, "propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle," resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, flight, obstruction of highways, drunkenness, disregard of traffic regulations and violations of statutes regulating pedestrians.

Upon District Attorney Ed Marsico's review of the videotape of the encounter, he determined there was no basis to prosecute Sienneck and dropped the charges. By that time, the skateboarder had spent three weeks in Dauphin County Prison with a $250,000 bail he couldn't afford. Marsico requested the State Police investigate the two troopers.

The video has not yet been released despite requests filed by the media. Williams says he requested the State Police to preserve the footage.

In the civil complaint, Sienneck asks for a jury trial on counts of excessive use of force, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

"Unfortunately, the only person who paid the consequences of this incident is Christopher Sienneck," says attorney Williams. "The purposes of this lawsuit is to stop this kind of conduct and make the consequences fair and put their effect where they belong."

Christopher Sienneck is involved in both Harrisburg's skateboarding community and the community at large. He has had prior run-ins with the law, though he has described interacting positively with police in the past. Sienneck is a community and social justice advocate for civic and environmental causes. He has volunteered in a program that teaches autistic children to ride skateboards co-sponsored by his local police department(1) and expressed interest in running for city council.

"What I love most," Siennick told the Patriot News in an earlier feature on skateboarding in The Harrisburg Patriot News(2), "is my ability to get somewhere on my own."

The case is Siennick v. Trotta and Luckenbaugh (Pennsylvania State Police), M.D.Pa (case number to be assigned)

About Williams Cuker Berezofsky

Williams Cuker Berezofsky is committed to protecting the personal and civil rights of individuals. Founded in 1985 with offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the firm represents and litigates on behalf of clients both locally and nationally.

The law firm also represents citizens affected by environmental contamination at home and work, patients harmed by pharmaceutical products or medical devices, and individuals claiming police brutality and government abuse. Whistleblowers who come forward to call attention to corporate or government wrongdoing contact Williams Cuker Berezofsky to investigate, prepare and submit qui tam and False Claims Act cases to state authorities and the U.S. Department of Justice.



SOURCE Williams Cuker Berezofsky