Gettysburg man, borough police reach $225,000 settlement in federal civil rights lawsuit

Derek Twyman (left) and attorney Devon M. Jacob are shown announcing a federal civil rights lawsuit in this file photo

GETTYSBURG — A Gettysburg man has settled his federal civil rights lawsuit against a Gettysburg police officer, the Gettysburg Borough, and several other parties, his attorney announced today.

Derek J. Twyman filed the lawsuit against Gettysburg police officer Christopher Folster and the other parties in January. The settlement is for $225,000.

The lawsuit stems from a May 2015 case where Twyman was arrested by Folster. The incident was recorded on a body camera worn by Folster, who was testing the equipment.

On May 12, 2015, Folster pulled over Twyman and accused him of violating a protection from abuse order. After an extensive argument, Folster is seen on video pulling out his taser and threatening to use it on Twyman if he does not get out of the car.

Folster then is seen opening the door and firing the taser on Twyman, whose hands were visible at all times. Twyman was tasered five times in all.

He was eventually arrested on charges of resisting arrest.

At his trial, held earlier this year, his lawyer, Adams County Public Defender Jason Pudleiner, argued Twyman was not enough of a risk to Officer Folster for him to justify using a taser “seven to eight times.”

A jury agreed, and Twyman was found not guilty. The trial lasted only a day.

After the trial, civil rights attorney Devon M. Jacob filed the federal lawsuit on Twyman’s behalf. In addition to Folster, the suit named the Gettysburg Borough, Larry Runk, Chief Joseph F. Dougherty, William E. Troxell, two police officers employed by Gettysburg College, and Gettysburg College as defendants.

“Through my investigation, I have discovered complete incompetence by those with oversight responsibility, and a pattern and practice of deliberate indifference that directly caused Mr. Twyman’s constitutional rights to be violated,” said Jacob, himself a former police officer, in a statement announcing the suit. “Chief Dougherty, who it is my understanding has been placed on a performance improvement plan, must be fired,” declared Jacob.

In his announcement of the settlement, Jacob said Twyman offered to accept a settlement for $200,000 to resolve the litigation in exchange for the Borough’s agreement to become an accredited police department within three years and its agreement to deploy mobile and body cameras in the field.

The Borough, Jacob said, offered more money “in exchange for not being required to agree to necessary reforms,” Jacob said in his statement.

“Derek (Twyman) is the only person who even considered the best interests of the citizens and taxpayers,” Jacob’s statement concludes. “Folster has not been criminally prosecuted, and the police chief has not been fired. The citizens of this Borough need to wake up and start holding their elected officials accountable.”