Court: State police don’t have to release complaints about ex-trooper

Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police
Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania appeals court says state police don’t have to release six complaints about a former trooper accused in a federal lawsuit of using excessive force during an arrest in the capital city last year.

Commonwealth Court in an opinion Wednesday affirmed a ruling by the Office of Open Records, which said the complaints by the public against ex-Trooper Michael Trotta are exempt from disclosure under the Right To Know Law because they relate to noncriminal investigations.

A Florida-based civil litigation attorney had asked for all complaints made against Trotta to see whether state police conducted an official probe of each report.

Trotta was fired for an “internal matter” last year after a skateboarder accused him and another trooper of brutality during a May 2015 arrest. The skateboarder, Chris Siennick, admitted to ABC27 that he made an obscene hand gesture to the troopers. He said they got out of their car and chased him, and then hit him with a baton and twice used a stun gun. After he fell to the ground, he said the troopers punched and kicked him.

The other trooper named in Siennick’s lawsuit, Ryan Luckenbaugh, is awaiting trial on charges of official oppression, simple assault, and harassment. He’s accused of kicking Siennick in the face after he was maced and Tasered. He’s also accused of trumping up charges against Siennick and signing off on the falsified report.

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