A man is suing the Pennsylvania State Police, alleging police brutality after he was beaten so severely that one of the officers broke his hand punching him during the arrest, WBNG-TV reports. Video of the incident, which occurred in late 2010, was caught on one of the state trooper's dash cameras but was just uploaded to YouTube a few weeks ago.
The suspect, Robert Leone, of Vestal, N.Y., was reportedly pulled over on suspicion of committing a minor hit-and-run in Bradford County, Pa. Some of Leone's injuries are displayed in a gruesome mugshot where his entire right eye is swollen shut and his face is extremely bruised.
In the video, a terrifying scene plays out. Two Pennsylvania State Police cars box in Leone's vehicle as troopers instruct him to exit. Shortly later, another trooper is seen shooting Leone with a Taser through the sunroof.
The same officer is then seen jumping off the car, kicking Leone as other officers cuff him. The troopers reportedly testified that Leone was fighting and resisting them, but the video doesn't clearly show him being violent towards police.
Trooper Scott Renfer reportedly broke his hand after delivering "blow after blow" to Leone's head. The suspect also argues he was repeatedly kicked and Tased while he was off-camera.
In the raw video, one of the state troopers can be heard yelling at Leone: "Do you know who you're messing with? This is the Pennsylvania State Police."
The verbal abuse that ensued is undeniable.
"F***ing pull over means be pulled the f*** over. You’re going to be somebody’s f***ing butt f*** inside," another officer can be heard yelling.
Towards the end of the video, Leone can be heard moaning in apparent terror as he repeatedly tells officers he is "sorry."
"Are you f***ing stupid?" a trooper asks.
"I'm sorry," Leone says again before continuing to moan loudly.
"Shut up you mother f***er," a different officer shouts back at him.
The lawsuit asserts police did not allow EMS personnel to treat Leone at the scene and refused to let him be transported by ambulance to the hospital. Instead, they hogtied him and threw him in the back of a police car before taking him to get medical attention.
Meanwhile, the trooper who broke his hand beating on Leone's head rode in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Joan Leone, Robrt's mother, told WBNG she was horrified when she spoke to her son for the first time after his arrest.
"They put him on the phone and he starts screaming that he has been beaten within an inch of his life. They tried to kill him through the night. He has been threatened that they are going to kill him and make it look like a suicide or an accident," she said. "[Leone said] That these guys are crazy and you've got to get me out of here, they've been beating me. And the minute they said that, they pulled the phone from him and I was disconnected."
Leone was convicted in late 2010 of a number of charges, such as assault, fleeing or eluding police and resisting arrest. He is currently serving a 48-month prison sentence. And though the incident happened more than a year ago, his supporters are still advocating for Leone's release and want the officers involved to face punishment.
Author and former Pennsylvania state trooper Larry Hohol has made it a personal mission to get justice for Leone. He was the one who uploaded the video to YouTube and he regularly posts updates on the case on his website. He says Leone's case reminds him of the infamous Rodney King beating.
Further, roughly 50 protesters took to the streets about month ago in Towanda, Pa., advocating for Leone's release and punishment for the officers who beat him up.
"There's possibly a good chance that there's a cover up at all levels," said Mike Kitner, one of the protesters. "We just want some answers, we want somebody to come down and look into it because we're not getting any."
In a statement to WBNG, the Bradford County Commission said:
The Bradford County Commissioners are certainly concerned about any allegations of inappropriate treatment inflicted on any individual involved in the criminal justice system.
The Commissioners recognize that there are two sides to every story and a pending Federal Lawsuit should answer some of those questions. However, the County’s sole involvement in this matter is their legal obligation to incarcerate prisoners who have been remanded to their facilities through the court system by a District Magistrate or a County Judge.
Bradford County District Attorney Dan Barrett said Leone had "abusive levels" of the stimulant drug Adderall in his system when he was arrested, WBNG reports.
The raw video of Leone's arrest can be seen, below. (Warning: Graphic Language)
(H/T: Daily Mail)