Couple accuse troopers of excessive force

posted October 16, 2019

Couple accuse troopers of excessive force

By Nathan Duke
Couple accuse troopers of excessive force
Federal lawsuit filed over man's 2017 arrest
Nathan Duke Eagle Staff Writer
August 8, 2019 Local News

A Brady Township couple have filed a federal lawsuit against the state police troopers who arrested the husband at their home in 2017, alleging that the three officers used excessive force.

According to the couple's federal court complaint, which was filed Tuesday by Butler's Lindsay Law Firm, a National Guard helicopter reported to Trooper Michael Lewis that a marijuana plant was spotted in Danny and Sheri Pollock's backyard on July 29, 2015.

Upon being questioned, Danny Pollock told Lewis that two marijuana plants were being grown in the backyard of their Muddy Creek Drive home to provide pain relief for his wife, who had chronic back pain from a motorcycle accident, according to the suit.

Pollock told the trooper that his wife was allergic to narcotics and other pain killers prescribed to her, so he was growing the plants to help mitigate her pain.

Lewis seized the plants and told the Pollocks they would not likely hear from the police again, according to the complaint.

But the suit alleges that on July 26, 2017, criminal charges were filed stemming from the 2015 incident, and an arrest warrant was issued the following day.

However, Danny Pollock said he heard nothing about the case between the time of Lewis' original visit and Aug. 20, 2017, the suit says.

In response to a request, a state police spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

On Aug. 9, 2017, Danny Pollock had a heart attack and was taken to Butler Memorial Hospital, where treatment included the stenting of one of his arteries.

Around 5 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2017, three troopers — Gregory Bogan, Nathan Spangler and Matthew Kephart — showed up at the couple's home to serve an arrest warrant, according to the suit.

Sheri Pollock greeted the troopers on the front porch, and the complaint alleges that Bogan made his way from the rear of the property to the front porch, ran up the stairs and shouted at Danny Pollock that he was under arrest.

The couple alleges that the officers used excessive force, despite Pollock and his wife telling the officers he had recently been released from the hospital after a heart attack and that medication he was taking made him disoriented and confused.

According to the suit, the troopers refused to specify the cause for the warrant or show proof of its existence. Spangler allegedly grabbed Pollock's left arm and placed a handcuff on his wrist.

Danny Pollock, who was not wearing shoes, allegedly was denied a request to get his shoes from inside the door of his house.

At this time, Sheri Pollock reiterated the seriousness of her husband's medical condition, and Bogan is alleged to have called her an “(expletive) liar,” according to the complaint.
The couple alleges in the suit that Bogan then “bull-rushed” Danny Pollock, slamming him against his house.

Bogan and Spangler allegedly threw Danny Pollock to the ground; smashed his face into a porch swing, breaking two of his teeth and causing damage to his right eye, according to the suit.

Pollock alleges he was held face-down on the ground, where he was kicked, punched, kneed in the groin and elbowed as officers handcuffed him. Kephart allegedly threatened to Taser him, the suit says.

Sheri Pollock was troubled by blood coming from her husband's face and head since he was on blood thinners due to his recent surgery.

According to the complaint, Danny Pollock complained of chest pain at the time of the incident, and his wife alleges she was not allowed to check on him for hours after he was transported to BMH following the incident.

While waiting in the emergency room and in Sheri Pollock's presence, Bogan asked a nurse to consult Danny Pollock's records to determine whether the couple was being truthful about his recent operation, the suit says.

When the nurse confirmed Pollock's hospital stay, Bogan is alleged to have said to Spangler, “Oh (expletive), 11 days ago,” according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that Danny Pollock remained in the hospital from Aug. 21 to Aug. 23, 2017, to undergo evaluations, which included a heart catheterization to ensure the grafting and stents that were implanted 12 days earlier remained in place after the alleged assault.

Pollock's treating physician documented his observation of multiple bruises on Pollock's body, including one on the back of his head, another on his right lower extremity and one on his right wrist, the suit says.

Danny Pollock was released in a wheelchair from the hospital on Aug. 23, 2017, and transported by state police officers to the Butler County Prison, where he remained incarcerated for 15 days.

According to the suit, Pollock's injuries from the alleged use of excessive force included acute chest pain; numbness in his right arm; lower back pain, which forced him to walk with a cane; damage to his right eye, including blurred vision and obstructed peripheral vision; recurring neck and head aches; and damaged teeth, one cracked and two others chipped.

Max Roesch, an attorney for the Pollocks, called the troopers' alleged behavior “inexplicable,” and didn't know why police waited two years to arrest Danny Pollock.

“The clients feel very wronged by this,” Roesch said. “They've always held good feelings toward police and law enforcement. They want somebody held to account for this thing that nobody deserves, especially over two marijuana plants two years prior.”

Eagle staff writer Alex Weidenhof contributed to this report.