Gettysburg man files federal lawsuit over 2015 taser arrest

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GETTYSBURG, PA. — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against a former Gettysburg police officer for an arrest in May of 2015 that was recorded on a body camera worn by the officer. Derek Twyman was pulled over on May 12th of 2015 by Borough Police Officer Chris Folster. Folster was wearing the camera as part of a test run of the cameras.

In the video, Folster accuses Twyman of violating a protection from abuse order.

Folster and Twyman argue for nearly four minutes before Folster pulls out his taser and threatens to use it on Twyman if he does not get out of his car.

“I am going to taser you,” Folster shouts at Twyman.

“For what?” Twyman responds.

“For being under arrest.”

Folster then opens Twyman’s car door, threatens him with a taser again, and then uses it on Twyman who is still in his front seat, his hands visible the entire time. Twyman was tasered five times. The entire incident is captured on Folster’s body camera.

Twyman was arrested and charged with resisting arrest. At his trial, held last Thursday, 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.

National civil rights attorney, Devon M. Jacob, of Jacob Litigation is representing Twyman. The lawsuit also names Gettysburg Borough, Larry Runk, Chief Joseph F. Dougherty, William E. Troxell, and 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. “Chief Dougherty, who it is my understanding has been placed on a performance improvement plan, must be fired,” declared Jacob.

The Borough issued a statement as well:

“The Borough of Gettysburg declines to make any comment on the press release and subsequent press conference issued by Devon Jacob, Esquire, attorney for Derek J. Twyman, relative to a lawsuit which he has announced was filed today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The Borough has not been provided with a copy of Mr. Twyman’s complaint. Of course, the Borough cannot comment on that which it has neither seen nor reviewed. Further, the Borough will not be providing any comment to the media relative to a suit which has been filed in court. At this juncture, anything contained in Mr. Twyman’s complaint constitutes unproven allegations against any of the defendants named as parties in the suit. Any responses to those allegations to be made on behalf of the Borough of Gettysburg, its current and former officials, and its current and former employees, shall be made in the form of formal answers or other responsive pleadings to be filed in the court where the suit is filed. As is proper, the Borough will defend this action in court through its legal counsel and it will not litigate this matter in the media.”