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Spring Grove-area man shot by cop asks judge for justice, and to be heard

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A Spring Grove-area man shot in the leg while handcuffed by a police officer has asked a York County judge not to grant the prosecution's request to drop the case.

"I was pushed to the side and brushed under the rug and covered up," Ryan Shane Smith wrote in his letter to Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook, who is presiding over former Southwestern Regional Police Officer Stu Harrison's simple assault case.

"I don't agree with (the charge) being dropped at all," Smith wrote in the letter, obtained by The York Dispatch. "In fact, I believe he was under charged."

Smith noted he suffers from pain and post-traumatic stress disorder daily since being shot.

"My life has been hell since this happened," the letter states. "This is about justice and what is right.

"I was nearly killed at the hands of the police," Smith wrote. "I'm asking that I can please at least be heard by the Court. ... Will you please just hear me out."

Smith maintains the York County District Attorney's Office didn't notify him that they intended to ask Cook to drop Harrison's charge.

Pennsylvania's Crime Victims Act of 1998 requires prosecutors to notify victims if they intend to reduce or drop charges in personal-injury and burglary cases.

State police investigate an incident at Santander Bank, 39 W. Hanover St., in Spring Grove Wednesday, May 30. (Photo: Lindsay C. VanAsdalan)

Kyle King, spokesman for the district attorney's office, said notification was made to Smith's mother.

"Ms. Smith stated to our office that she is Ryan's legal power of attorney, and our understanding was that she was acting as both the voice of her and her son," King said.

Opposed DA's plan: Christine Smith confirmed she has power of attorney for her son and that at a meeting with the DA's Office in early February she was told prosecutors were considering dropping the case.

In response, she said, she sent prosecutors a letter through her attorney Feb. 18, telling them she opposed that and wanted a plea agreement that would hold Harrison accountable. She said she doubts whether the shooting was a mistake, as officials have said.

Harrison inadvertently drew his firearm rather than his Taser as he was trying to get Ryan Smith to move his legs inside the cruiser where the handcuffed man was already sitting, according to officials.

Southwestern Regional Police Officer Stu Harrison

It happened May 30, 2018, in the parking lot of Santander Bank at 39 W. Hanover St. in Spring Grove. Harrison was called there because Ryan Smith, who has mental-health issues, was causing a disturbance in the bank, asking for his money when he didn't have an account there.

"I wanted an opportunity to hear from Harrison," Christine Smith's letter states. "It feels to me that there isn't justice in what you are proposing. I feel there need to be legal consequences for Harrison. ..."

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Victim not told: Christine Smith said she didn't tell her son that prosecutors were considering dropping Harrison's case because he had enough going on in his life, because she didn't think it was a sure thing and because she didn't realize prosecutors had actually requested the case be dropped until she read it in a local newspaper.

Ryan Smith stated in his letter that he learned about it from an article in The York Dispatch.

Christine Smith, center, husband Shane, and sister Cathy Glatfelter, right hold a peaceful protest in front of the York County Judicial Center after learning that the District Attorney's office has decided to drop charges against former Southwestern Regional Police Officer Stu Harrison, Monday, June 1, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The criminal case is still pending against Harrison, 58, now of South Carolina, according to court records. As of Thursday evening, Judge Cook had not ordered a hearing on the matter.

Attorneys Ed Paskey and Chris Ferro, who represent Harrison, have declined comment until the case is resolved.

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It will be Cook who decides whether to grant the prosecution's motion to drop the case.

Smith, 34, of Jackson Township, is currently in York County Prison on a probation violation.

On May 11, he and his mother filed a lawsuit in Harrisburg's federal court against Harrison, the former Southwestern Regional Police Department, its now-disbanded police board and Spring Grove borough.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.