House arrest, probation for woman punched in face by York City cop

  • A woman punched in the face on camera during an arrest in York City will spend the next three months on house arrest.
  • She pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and defiant trespass, and she was sentenced to house arrest and probation.

A woman punched repeatedly in the face by a York City Police officer during an arrest earlier this year will spend the next three months under house arrest.

A video showing a physical confrontation between a York City police officer and York City resident Melissa Dyann Penn on July 3, 2017, was widely shared on social media.
(Video courtesy of Facebook)

Melissa Dyann Penn, 21, of South Duke Street, pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and defiant trespass. As a result of her negotiated plea agreement, her charge of aggravated assault was dismissed, according to online court records.

Penn was arrested in July after an altercation with a police officer outside Pandora's Box, 466 E. Market St. A 10-second video of her arrest, which included Officer Galen Detweiller punching Penn multiple times, was posted on Facebook, and as of Tuesday, Dec. 5, had gathered nearly 100,000 views.

On Monday, Dec. 4, Common Pleas Judge Michael Bortner sentenced Penn to two years of probation, with the first three months on house arrest. Additionally, she was ordered to never go back to Pandora's Box, according to court records.

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Incident: Detweiller and Officer Bradley Engle were outside Pandora's Box about 1:40 a.m. July 3 to make sure the bar closed safely, according to officials.

Penn was trying to get back into the bar after bouncers removed her, police said at the time.

Multiple people, including her father, were attempting to escort her from the property, according to charging documents.

Her father was able to remove her from the property, but police say she made her way back and once again tried getting into the bar. 

Melissa Dyann Penn

She was "extremely confrontational" to those around her, police said. On several occasions her father pleaded with her to leave, even telling her "the cops are right there," but Penn responded with "I don't give a f— about the cops!" according to charging documents.

Police said her father tried carrying her away, but she broke free and headed back to the bar.

Detweiller said during Penn's preliminary hearing that he decided to arrest her to ensure the well-being of those around her and that he tried to maneuver her into a "compliant handcuffing position."

Penn pulled away from him violently, he testified, and he tried a number of compliance measures to bring her under control, all of which were failing.

He tried an "arm-bar takedown" on her, but Penn stood back up, he said. Detweiller did it a second time and was successful.

While on the ground, Penn kicked Detweiller twice, landing one kick to his sternum, he testified. Penn started to put her hands around his neck, he testified, and he then struck her four times in the face "in an effort to daze and disorient her."


Review: At the time of the arrest, York City Police said the department was going to review the footage to determine what occurred. In July, Chief Wes Kahley said Detweiller remained on active duty and that Detweiller did what he had to do to prevent injury to himself and to take Penn into custody.

At the time, the chief said he and city officials were discussing whether they could release additional footage of the encounter. 

Kahley did not respond to a request seeking information about the footage Tuesday.

Penn could not be reached, and Bill Graff, Penn's attorney, declined comment when reached Tuesday. The prosecutor in the case declined comment as well.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.