Here is a statement from Devon M. Jacob, regarding the decision not to charge two Springettsbury Township Officers accused of assaulting his client, Steven Landis:
“District Attorney Tom Kearney knew of the use of force shortly after it occurred, but like Springettsbury Township (that to date has not conducted an internal investigation into whether or not Department policies were violated), decided not to conduct a criminal investigation. Instead, DA Kearney chose to prosecute Steven Landis for resisting arrest, which resulted in an acquittal. In light of the fact that as a direct result of DA Kearney’s conduct York County is a Defendant in a pending related federal civil rights case, it is hardly surprising that DA Kearney’s investigation concluded that the officers (and he) did nothing wrong.
Regarding DA Kearney’s report, in determining whether a police officer’s use of force is reasonable, the scope of the inquiry is limited to the totality of the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time when the force is used. Kopec v. Tate, 361 F.3d 772 (3d Cir. 2004). This begs the question as to why DA Kearney’s report discusses matters related to an alleged domestic assault that were not known to Officer Moyer when he warned Mr. Landis that “I am going to hurt you more,” and “You are going to get fucked up,” before intentionally breaking five (5) of his ribs. If such information was relevant, DA Kearney’s report would have also discussed the other use of force incidents involving Officer Moyer. Moreover, it is simply ridiculous that DA Kearney’s report contains an opinion from Mr. Landis’ estranged wife about the officers’ use of force. Finally, there are numerous reasons why criminal defendants enter into guilty pleas – actual guilt being only one of those reasons. Therefore, either DA Kearney did not understand the applicable law, or intended to deliver a self-serving report; neither is acceptable.
Furthermore, it is very upsetting that DA Kearney published personal information from Mr. Landis’ medical records in clear violation the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). While medical records were produced during the course of the investigation, Mr. Landis never authorized DA Kearney or York County, Pennsylvania, to publish his medical information to the general public.
Finally, it is notable that in both the Williams and Landis matters, Sgt. Charles Mory essentially concluded that the officers’ poor decisions and actions caused the need for the use of force – a matter that will be addressed by the pending civil rights cases. Regardless, since it is clear that justice cannot be had at the state level in York County, the Williams and Landis matters will be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a proper criminal investigation.”
Devon M. Jacob, Esquire