Charges in brutality case against Pa. trooper held for court

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A suspended state police trooper is headed to trial on charges stemming from the alleged beating of a skateboarder in the city last year.

All counts against Trooper Ryan Luckenbaugh were bound for court after a preliminary hearing Monday.

Luckenbaugh was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of official oppression, a misdemeanor count of simple assault, and a summary count of harassment.

Chris Siennick
Chris Siennick

Luckenbaugh, 37, of Mechanicsburg, is accused of kicking Chris Siennick in the face while Siennick was seated on the ground and handcuffed behind his back, according to charging documents filed by the Internal Affairs Division of the Pennsylvania State Police.

He also subjected Siennick to arrest, detention, search, seizure, or mistreatment based on false allegations and facts, the criminal complaint states.

“You have the person on the ground, handcuffed behind his back already, Tased already, pepper sprayed, and surrounded by eight police officers. At that point, he does not pose a threat, it was not necessary to kick him,” Dauphin County Assistant District Attorney Stephen Zawisky said.

During the two-hour hearing, prosecutors played a dash camera video of the May 16, 2015 incident near Second and Locust streets, stopping throughout to point out what they said are inconsistencies in the police report Luckenbaugh filed.

Luckenbaugh wrote that Siennick struck and spit on their vehicle, had a heavy odor of suspected alcohol, and refused a breath test. Authorities said the video includes no evidence of Siennick striking or spitting the SUV, and city police officers who were on the scene didn’t believe he was intoxicated or offered a breath test.

Luckenbaugh’s attorney, Ed Spreha, said there’s more to the story than the video.

“Unfortunately, you were only given a glimpse of what happened on that night,” Spreha said. “The police relied on a video recording that didn’t show everything. There’s more to this that, unfortunately, wasn’t recorded based on the nature of how police mobile video recorders work. So, we’re looking forward to moving on with this case and having our day in court.”

Michael Trotta (Pennsylvania State Police)
Michael Trotta (Pennsylvania State Police)

Siennick says Luckenbaugh and his partner that night, Trooper Michael Trotta, called him a gay slur from their police vehicle. He admits making an obscene hand gesture to the officers before they circled the block and chased and assaulted him.

He was arrested on numerous charges and spent three weeks in jail with a high bail. After reviewing the video, the Dauphin County district attorney’s office decided to drop all charges against Siennick and recommended Internal Affairs investigate the actions of Trotta and Luckenbaugh.

Luckenbaugh, a trooper since 2006, is suspended without pay. A formal arraignment is scheduled June 17.

Trotta is not charged in the incident, but he was fired last year for undisclosed reasons.

Siennick has filed a federal lawsuit naming both troopers.

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