Springettsbury Township has settled two federal civil-rights lawsuits filed by people who alleged officers used excessive force when arresting them.
The township will pay a total of $500,000 -- $250,000 each to Steven E. Landis and Debra L. Williams -- and has agreed to other conditions as well, according to a letter filed Thursday in Harrisburg's federal court that confirms the settlement agreement.
But both lawsuits remain active, with York County as the remaining defendant, according to attorney Devon Jacob, who said he will be adding District Attorney Tom Kearney as a defendant in both suits.
Landis, 58, of Manchester Township, sued Officer Chad Moyer, Officer William Polizzotto Jr. and others, claiming that while being arrested on a warrant in August 2012 on Eden Road, Moyer used a "compliance strike" by kneeing him in the side -- breaking five of his ribs -- and that Polizzotto shocked him twice with a stun gun.
Acquitted: A York County judge later acquitted Landis of a resisting arrest charge.
Williams, 42, alleged in her lawsuit 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 later 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.
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney directed state police to conduct investigations into both incidents. After reviewing those findings, Kearney determined none of the officers broke the law.
The concessions: In addition to the half-million-dollar payout, Springettsbury Township has also agreed to ask the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association to review the township police department's existing policies and practices regarding officers' interactions with mentally ill people; how it accommodates people with disabilities; its arrest procedures; its "de-escalation techniques"; officers' use of Tasers; and officers' use of force in general, according to the settlement agreement.
The township has agreed to ask the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association to issue a written report of its findings, which the township has agreed to make public, the agreement states.
'New partnerships': Springettsbury Township has agreed to abide by any recommendations made by the association.
The township has also agreed to build "new partnerships," and strengthen existing ones, with local, state and federal groups that advocate on behalf of mentally ill people, according to the settlement agreement, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
It also states that when an officer uses a Taser or other electronic-control weapon that causes injury or death, all evidence will be saved for at least 2-1/2 years, or until all administrative, civil and criminal proceedings are concluded.
The township also agreed to photograph the officers and those arrested, to record any visible injuries, and to immediately seize as evidence the uniforms, equipment, shoes and weapons of officers who injure or kill someone with a Taser, the agreement states.
Taser policies: The township has also agreed that officers will report all Taser use resulting in injury or death to the police chief -- immediately if a death is involved, and within 24 hours if an injury has occurred.
It also agreed that in such cases, an internal investigation will begin immediately and be completed within 45 days, unless the police chief grants an extension for good cause, according to the settlement.
A statement released Thursday morning by township manager John Holman states:
"Springettsbury Township has been advised today by its insurance carrier that two pending civil cases have been settled. The Township understands the civil cases with Mr. Steven Landis and Ms. Debra Williams have been settled for $250,000 per plaintiff. As a condition of the settlement, all suits against individual officers have been dropped."
Jacob said his clients are satisfied.
"You hear it all the time, but this really was not just about the money," he said. "They insisted on forcing change in the township."
Retaliation claim: Jacob said he will be adding Kearney as a defendant to Landis' and Williams' lawsuits, for alleged retaliation.
He said Kearney's publicly released findings about the two incidents included his clients' private information.
"Clearly Mr. Kearney was trying to tarnish my clients' reputations and make them out to be in the wrong in this situation," Jacob said.
Kyle King, spokesman for the district attorney's office, referred comment to York County solicitor Mike Flannelly.
"We will be contesting the lawsuits, and our position will be made known in the (court filings)," Flannelly said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.