The York County district attorney has determined two Springettsbury Township police officers being sued for alleged brutality did not break the law.
District Attorney Tom Kearney's ruling, released Friday morning, comes a month after he cleared two Springettsbury officers of criminal wrongdoing in an unrelated case. (To read Kearney's 27-page ruling, click on the "police decision" icon to the right.)
Lawsuits have been filed against police in both cases.
The officers involved in both cases had been on desk duty, but because of the rulings have been returned to active duty, according to Springettsbury Township Police Chief Tom Hyers.
Steven E. Landis, 57, of Manchester Township, filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Chad Moyer, Officer William Polizzotto Jr.
In May, a York County judge acquitted Landis of his resisting arrest charge.
No charges: Kearney had state police conduct an investigation into the incident. On Friday, Kearney released many of the findings, including his written conclusion, which states in part:
"With regard to the mental state of the officers, both officers had ample reason to be concerned about their safety during the encounter. When Mr. Landis failed to comply with the request of Officer Moyer to place his hands behind his back ... Officer Moyer was justified in using such force as necessary to force compliance. His use of the leg sweep was not unreasonable under such circumstances. Once on the ground, the concerns of both officers regarding the possible possession of a concealed weapon in the area of Mr. Landis' hands ... makes the use of the Taser and compliance strike reasonable. This was confirmed by the police expert in use of force. ..."
"(The) officers were justified in the amount of force used in this encounter to make the arrest. Accordingly, the conduct of the officers does not merit the filing of criminal charges."
'Hardly surprising': Attorney Devon Jacob, who represents Landis in his lawsuit, said Kearney's ruling is "hardly surprising," given the DA allegedly knew about the incident shortly after it happened and chose not to investigate, and given that Kearney instead chose to prosecute Landis for resisting arrest, according to Jacob.
Jacob also represents Debra L. Williams in her federal civil rights lawsuit against Springettsbury Township Police.
Williams alleges that during her April 2011 arrest she was punched and grabbed by the neck by Moyer and Cpl. Greg Hadfield. She also alleges the two officers filed false reports about the arrest, according to the lawsuit.
Prosecutors previously dropped the charges against her, including aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, after she agreed to plead guilty to simple assault for scratching a person prior to police arresting her, according to Jacob.
Both Williams and Landis are seeking damages, costs and legal fees.
Going to feds: Jacob said he will now ask federal officials to investigate his clients' claims of brutality.
"(S)ince it is clear that justice cannot be had at the state level in York County, the Williams and Landis matters will be referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for a proper criminal investigation," Jacob wrote in an email statement.
-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.