College graduate sues police, alleging violation of rights

Kasey Schefflin-Emrich Sep. 25, 2015, 12:25pm


A West Milton man is suing numerous employees of the Bloomsburg Police Department, alleging violation of his constitutional rights.

Clyde Gass filed a lawsuit Aug. 5 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Nicholas Szkodny and John Does 1-5, individually and as officers of the Bloomsburg Police Department, alleging violations of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment.

According to the complaint, on May 9, 2014, Gass was among a large group of students walking throughout the streets of Bloomsburg celebrating their college graduation when he was grabbed by the police officers, thrown to the ground, physically restrained by officers and arrested for disorderly conduct.

The suit states Szkodny cited Gass for actions he allegedly engaged in while inside an apartment building, although Gass contends Szkodny didn't observe him anywhere but on a public street. The lawsuit says the defendants used excessive force when there was no presence of danger or a threat, arrested an individual without probable cause, enforced a law on the basis on an arbitrary or unjustified standard and retaliated against Gass as the result of him exercising his rights of free speech and free assembly.

The suit says the defendants' actions were taken to purposely intimidate and harass the plaintiff. Gass alleges he suffered various physical injuries, in addition to experiencing fear and humiliation.

Gass seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs, and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. He is represented by attorney Matthew R. Kline of Kline, Topolewski & Frishberg in Villanova.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case number 4:15-cv-01533-MWB.

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