Parents file lawsuit against Pennsylvania police and ADs

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STROUDSBURG, Pa. — The family of a teenage boy shot dead by Pennsylvania State Police in 2020 is suing department staff, Monroe County prosecutors, and the county itself, alleging, among other things, that the soldiers had used excessive force.

State police shot 19-year-old Christian Hall on Dec. 30, 2020, after about 90 minutes of trying to negotiate and de-escalate. Troopers responded after Hall anonymously called 911 about a potentially suicidal person. Hall held a pellet gun pointed up and away from the police, and he was shot with his hands in the air.

The federal trial in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, filed by Hall’s parents, Fe and Gareth Hallwho are represented by civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Devon M. Jacob, includes a wrongful death claim.

“Pennsylvania State Police cannot comment on ongoing litigation,” department spokesman Brent Miller told the Pocono Record, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

CHRISTIAN HALL CASE: Unredacted footage shows 19-year-old Christian Hall with his hands up when he was shot by Pennsylvania state police

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchik and four Pennsylvania State Police troopers are also charged.

The soldiers are charged with excessive force and failure to intervene, two violations of the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit says Hall never threatened the soldiers or pointed a gun at anyone.

The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office found the shot justified and declined to ask Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office for an outside review.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also alleges Evanchik, Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine Jr. and First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso conspired to interfere with the civil rights of parents of Lobby.

Christine and Mancuso sought to embarrass Hall’s parents, covered up false police statements and misled the public, the lawsuit alleges, while Evanchik allowed a false police statement, did not retract it and delayed an internal investigation, according to the lawsuit.

GRIEF, FAITH AND ANGER: Christian Hall’s parents look back on a year without their son

Mancuso said Wednesday afternoon that he briefly reviewed the complaint, but “does not establish a valid claim against the prosecutor’s office, prosecutor Christine, and myself.”

After the shooting, state police released a statement saying the soldiers fired after Hall pointed his gun at them. Dashcam video showed Hall did not do this.

The district attorney’s office in March 2021 released footage of the shooting, but blurred and redacted the final seconds of the video. Before the blur, Hall is last seen with his hands up. Months later, unredacted video, obtained by Spotlight PA and NBC News of Hall’s parents, showed Hall kept his hands above his head for 14 seconds, with the gun pointed away from the police. With his hands still raised, the soldiers fired a series of shots at Hall.

The lawsuit says the family obtained the footage via subpoena, but Evanchik initially objected and then sought to release the video subject to a confidential agreement.

When Mancuso showed the blurry footage at a press conference, “the presentation misleads the viewer into believing that in the redacted portion of the video, (Hall) pointed the perceived handgun at Troopers while advancing on Troopers,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit alleges that Christine and Mancuso intentionally wanted to mislead the public and support the police’s false statement with the blurry video.

Mancuso defended the office’s holding of a press conference, saying prosecutors had a “responsibility to keep the public informed and reassured that this tragic incident was not due to the unwarranted use of deadly force by the law enforcement”.

The lawsuit also says both prosecutors retaliated against Hall’s parents because of their criticism of the state police and the district attorney’s office. Fe and Gareth Hall wanted the state attorney general to investigate the allegations, which the suit also mentions.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for Hall’s family argued that the state attorney general could not investigate unless asked to do so by local prosecutors, according to state law. But Mancuso said Wednesday that the attorney general may seek to replace the district attorney to initiate a criminal investigation if the attorney general shows “that the prosecutor failed or refused to prosecute and the failure constitutes an abuse of power,” Mancuso said in a written statement. .

“The AG did not and will not attempt to substitute. The circumstances surrounding the use of lethal force demonstrate that such force was justified in the circumstances known to the officers,” Mancuso added.

Hall was 70 feet away and standing “in the universal surrender position” when he was shot, according to the lawsuit.

“What happened to Christian and his parents is not excusable,” Crump and Jacob said in a statement Wednesday.

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