Man alleges police brutality in federal suit
A Summit Hill man this week filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Scranton, alleging police brutality.
Garry Goodhile, 45, is seeking various compensation from the boroughs of Lansford and Summit Hill, and police officers Craig Strohl, Jeffrey Ohl, and Todd Woodward.
Goodhile is alleging in the suit that on on March 29, 2008, he was assaulted by officer Strohl and sustained "a broken hip, broken and/or bruised ribs, a serious and permanent injury to his ulnar nerve, and various other contusions, abrasions, and lacerations."
Ohl and Woodward looked on while Goodhile was being assaulted by Strohl, the suit alleges.
Carbon County Court records show that as a result of that incident, Goodhile was found guilty in Carbon County Court of disorderly conduct but not guilty of public drunkeness and similar misconduct, all summary offenses.
In his lawsuit, Goodhile is seeking compensatory damages "against all the defendants, jointly and severely;" punitive damages against the individual defendants, costs of the action, attorneys fees and costs, and "such other further relief as this Court may deem appropriate."
According to the allegations, in the late evening hours of March 29, 2008, Goodhile was attempting to assist an acquaintance who was in the midst of a medical emergency.
It is alleged that Strohl arrived on the scene "but was not wearing and/or did not display any badge of his authority or any other accoutrements of his position," but was employed by Lansford borough and was acting on a request for assistance from Woodward.
Ohl also arrived but was wearing a badge and uniform, the suit says.
The suit states that "Strohl, without warning, provocation or any type of justification, brutally assaulted (Goodhile) by tackling him, throwing him to the ground, and thereafter continued to assault (Goodhile) as he lay on the ground," which resulted in his injuries.
It says, "At the time this illegal assault took place, the Defendants, Ohl and Woodward had the opportunity and the duty to intervene to stop the assault...but chose to do nothing."
Goodhile is alleging a violation of his constitutional rights "to be free from unreasonable search and seizure of his person and to be free from the use of excessive force."
He also alleges damages in theform of past and future physical pain and suffering and emotional trauma and suffering, past and potential lost earnings and earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life's pleasures.
Summit Hill and Lansford were named as defendants because it allegedly "failed to adequately and properly supervise and train its police officers in various aspects of law enforcement procedure and substance, including, but not limited to, the use of force, the use of excessive force, the existence of probably cause, and the Constitutional limits on the use of force in the search, seizure, and detention of its citizens."
It is also claimed in the suit that, "It was a policy and/or custom of Lansford and Summit Hill to inadequately and improperly investigate citizen complaints and police misconduct, and acts of misconduct were instead tolerated by the boroughs."
Representing Goodhile is Attorney Robert J. Magee of the law firm Worth, Magee & Fisher P.C., 1163 Interchange Road, Lehighton.