York City woman drops civil-rights lawsuit against Springetts police, Walmart

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
The Springettsbury Township Police Department in Springettsbury Township, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A York City woman who sued Springettsbury Township, seven of its police officers and Walmart has voluntarily dropped her lawsuit, federal court records show.

Latoya Batty, 43, withdrew the federal civil-rights lawsuit on Feb. 9 with prejudice, records state. "With prejudice" means she cannot refile the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Springettsbury Township released a statement announcing the suit withdrawal and saying the dismissal "means the case was dismissed on its merit."

"We hold the officers of the Springettsbury Township Police Department to very high standards," the statement reads. "We were confident from the outset of this complaint that the evidence would show the officers acted in accordance with those standards."

Batty, whose suit was filed Dec. 17 in Harrisburg's federal court, had claimed she was wrongly arrested and falsely charged with shoplifting because she is Black.

She claimed she was physically assaulted by police and claimed they thought she was someone who'd previously shoplifted $1,000 worth of merchandise from that Walmart store.

The township's statement, which is unsigned, notes that neither township officials nor police were able to comment when the lawsuit was still active, but they can speak out now.

Police policy: The police department has a policy that everyone be treated "in a nonpartisan, fair, equitable, and objective manner, in accordance with law, and without consideration of their race, color, ethnicity, creed, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, socio-economic standing, genetic information or other individual characteristics or distinctions."

The Walmart store on East Market Street in Springettsbury Township on April 4, 2020.
Dawn J. Sagert photo

The township's statement goes on to say, "If we fail in this mission, we will hold accountable those responsible for the infraction," and that the township "will not tolerate" false allegations.

"(We) will pursue the truth and justice for our employees," the statement reads.

The allegations made against the officers by Batty aren't true, the township said.

She wasn't knocked to the ground or struck by officers, the statement reads, nor did they maliciously arrest her because of the color of her skin.

The lawsuit claimed there were "numerous prior complaints" against the department for arresting people of color without evidence, but the township said that's also untrue.

No 'history': "There is no evidence of a history of complaints of this nature," the township said, adding that its police department "will never pursue charges against any individual without evidence or probable cause."

Any officer who would falsely arrest someone without evidence "will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law," the statement reads.

Batty's attorney, Leticia Chavez-Freed, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

In late December, when The York Dispatch reported on the lawsuit, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an emailed statement: "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Walmart is committed to providing an inclusive shopping experience for all of our customers and we take allegations like this seriously. We will respond with the Court as appropriate after we are served with the Complaint."

In addition to the township, its police department and Walmart, Batty had also sued seven township officers — Lt. Brian Wilbur, Officer Jamie Miller and five unnamed officers. She dropped her claims against all defendants.

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