Bethlehem police officer’s motion for judgment denied; He hit man celebrating 21st birthday with car

By Dawn Geske | Oct 31, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A Pennsylvania officer’s request for summary judgment has been denied in a case as he sought to invoke governmental immunity after hitting and injuring an alleged suspect with his police car.

The suit involves plaintiff Anthony Ray Rivera and police officer Joshua Hobson. In the early morning of Sept. 19, 2014, Hobson responded to a call of a break-in at the Happy Tap Bar in Bethlehem.

At the time, Rivera was celebrating his 21st birthday and looking to enter Happy Tap Bar after hours. Both Hobson and police officer Glen Woolard responded to the break-in call at the bar, where Rivera and two other males were located.

Woolard, who arrived on foot to the scene, attempted to stop the men but failed when they got into their vehicle and drove away. Rivera was unable to access the backseat of the car and began to take off on foot, allegedly to avoid police apprehension.

Hobson also arrived on the scene by traveling the wrong way down the street in his police car with his lights off and in silent deployment (i.e. with no lights or siren). Hobson hit Rivera with his vehicle, causing a “head trauma, fractures, collapsed lung, and lacerations,” according to the court memorandum by District Judge Mark A. Kearney of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

An ambulance was called to treat Rivera for his injuries. Rivera has since filed suit against Hobson, who argued he had government immunity because he was in pursuit of a suspect. Kearney disagreed, stating that because Hobson drove the wrong way down the street and in silent deployment, Rivera had no way of knowing he was a police officer.

Kearney continued in his memorandum that Hobson violated Pennsylvania law and the Bethlehem police directive with his actions and dismissal of the case was not possible. Kearney denied Hobson’s motion for summary judgment because governmental immunity did not apply in the case.  

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