Nicholas Malfitano Feb. 23, 2016, 12:29pm


HARRISBURG – A Clarks Summit man is alleging unlawful seizure, wrongful arrest and false imprisonment against the Pennsylvania State Police.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Jeffrey Hudak claimed the state police violated his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights when they arrested him in connection with a double-shooting in Blooming Grove in September 2014, one which killed state trooper Bryon K. Dickson II and seriously wounded state trooper Alex Douglass.

Hudak alleged he was arrested in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2014, at his mother’s residence in Scranton, which he said Pennsylvania State Police acted on without a warrant.

Hudak characterized the state police manhunt after the shootings of Dickson and Douglass as “zealous, fast-moving and emotionally-driven” and that his arrest was carried out by officers armed with semi-automatic assault rifles.

The lawsuit names troopers Benjamin Clark, Kyle Hnat, two John Doe officers and two Jane Doe officers as having participated in Hudak’s arrest, detention and interrogation. Hudak claims he was not informed of the reasons for his capture by the state police at the time of his arrest, but later ascertained during his interrogation he was being accused of the shootings of troopers Dickson and Douglass.

Hudak further alleged his interrogation went on for hours and he was denied the ability to use the restroom and make a telephone call – though Hudak said he was finally allowed to use the restroom while supervised, only after he agreed to provide a DNA sample and undergo a gunpowder residue test.

When Hudak was allowed to make a telephone call, again while supervised, he learned from his sister that she had contacted an attorney to represent him, Bernard J. Brown, he said.

Further, Hudak claims it was only then he learned Brown had been on-site for several hours at the very same barracks he had been taken to, and that Brown requested the opportunity to meet with Hudak and been denied it.

After an intervention from Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin, spurred by a request from attorney Robert M. Buttner (himself contacted by Brown), Hudak said it was only then that his alleged unlawful arrest and detention ended. Hudak said he was never told at any point he was free to leave or able to terminate the interrogation.

Hudak further claimed various members of the state police continued to follow him for a period of days after his alleged unlawful arrest and interrogation.

In his suit, Hudak alleged the state police had “no probable cause” under the Fourth Amendment to arrest him for the shootings, and did not produce either an affidavit certifying same or secured a proper arrest warrant from a magistrate judge.

Hudak alleged damage to his name and reputation as a result of the state police arrest, since his name and photograph was widely distributed in the news and various other media outlets in the arrest’s aftermath, and Google searches featuring his name still bring up the arrest.

Eric Frein was later identified as the suspect in the trooper shootings and ultimately arrested by police in October 2014.

Hudak is seeking judgment, jointly and severally, including compensatory and punitive damages, interest, costs of suit, attorney’s fees and other relief which the Court may deem just and proper.

Per department policy, the Pennsylvania State Police offered no comment on Hudak’s pending suit.

The plaintiff is represented by of George A. Reihner of Wright & Reihner, in Scranton.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case 3:16-cv-00288

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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