LANCASTER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A federal lawsuit has been filed against a former local police chief and the township where he worked.
Kent Bowers was placed in the back of a Lancaster Township Police car after he was arrested by then-police chief David Sitler in October of last year. In court papers, it says that Bowers had been drinking and was acting erratically at the time.
Sitler is seen in the video opening the cruiser’s back door, that’s when the alleged assault occurs. The handcuffed Bowers first tried to get police attention by banging his head against a window and kicking the door. There’s no audio on the police cruiser tape.
Ryan Breen, Bowers’ attorney, said, “An exchange of words occurred – and it was the exchange of words, not a threat to the officer’s safety, not a threat to Mr. Bower’s safety – that the officer, you see on the video, spear tackles, lays him out across the backseat of the cruiser, grabs him by the neck, and chokes him nearly unconscious and starts beating on him.”
Sitler was a veteran of 20 years with the Lancaster Police Department, but just weeks after the confrontation with Bowers, he was fired for, among other things, conduct unbecoming an officer.
He never faced any criminal charges in the incident.
The federal lawsuit claims that Sitler allegedly violated Bowers’ rights by “using excessive and unnecessary force in his apprehension and post-arrest conduct.”
Attorney Breen said he got the police video after submitting right-to-know requests to the yownship. Breen says it wasn’t a complete version of what happened; the version of the original tape was never given to him.
What you see on the video, Breen says, crosses the line of what is and is not acceptable.
He said, “This isn’t someone that poses any threat to Sitler, or himself at that point, and it’s not kosher with ‘use of force’ policies with police departments around the country.”