Archive for category pennsylvania state police

Upper Saucon standoff has resident wondering when he can go home

David Stahler came home to find his door kicked in and a light on in his basement.

David Stahler said he was getting home from buying groceries when a coworker called: Someo…

Standoff in Upper Saucon after suspects allegedly fire at cops

Residents are urged to stay inside and lock their doors.

UPDATE: Upper Saucon standoff has resident wondering when he can go home

A police standooff in Upper Saucon To…

Heavy police activity shuts roads, golf course in Upper Saucon

“They’re all over,” one course staffer said.

UPDATE: Standoff in Upper Saucon after suspects allegedly fire at cops


A major police response has closed roads and shut down some operations on a local golf course in Upper Saucon Township.

“They’re all over,” a staffer who answered the phone at Wedgewood Golf Course said of the police presence shortly before 1:30 p.m. in the area of Limeport Pike, about a mile from the Interstate 78 exit to Route 309 South. The course has gone into “a bit of a lockdown,” he said, shutting down its driving range and at least a section of the full course.

A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter was flying around the area.

Authorities could not immediately confirm the nature of their response. Check back at lehighvalleylive.com for updates.

Steve Novak may be reached at snovak@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Man fleeing dad’s killing stopped twice in Lehigh County, cops say

The suspect was trying to get money from ATMs, police say.

A Schuylkill County man, fleeing after beating his father to death with a baseball bat, turned up twice on surveillance…

NorCo Grand Jury to Investigate PSP Homicide

Five weeks ago, Pennsylvania State Police shot and killed Anthony Ardo at or near his mother’s farm in Lower Mount Bethel Township. The previous day, she obtained a temporary Protection from Abuse Act Order against him. A drug addict, he had threatened…

‘They rushed too quickly’: Mother of man slain by police backs independent probe

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced a grand jury investigation into Anthony Ardo’s homicide.

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Jean Monaghan’s last memory of her only son is of him lying in a pool of blood, fatally shot by Pennsylvania State Police on May 20 outside the Lower Mount Bethel Township home they shared. 

anthony-ardo.jpgAnthony P. Ardo is seen in an undated photo provided by his family. The 47-year-old was fatally shot May 20, 2017, by Pennsylvania State Police outside his Lower Mount Bethel Township home. (Courtesy photo | For lehighvalleylive.com) 

She had called for police that morning with hopes they could get Anthony P. Ardo to a hospital or into a program that would help him overcome his drug addiction and anger. 

“And they opened fire on him,” Monaghan said Thursday afternoon in the shade of a tree on her rural property south of Bangor, a few feet from where Tony, as Ardo was known, was killed. He was 47.

Exposing a rift with the policies of the state police, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli earlier Thursday announced the county’s investigative grand jury will look into whether troopers were justified. The probe is expected to begin next week and wrap up by year’s end. The two troopers involved remain on administrative duty.

State police Troop M is also having its major case team conduct its own investigation. The findings, expected in two or three weeks, will be sent to Morganelli for review and a decision on the disposition of the case, according to state police.

It’s state police policy to conduct an internal review of a trooper-involved shooting, said Capt. Richard D’Ambrosio, commanding officer for Bethlehem-based Troop M.

“Whenever we have an officer-involved shooting and obviously involving our troopers and it occurs in a jurisdiction which is ours, which was the case here, our policy is that our people will handle the investigation,” D’Ambrosio said.

Monaghan questions how state police can investigate two of their own, a concern shared by Morganelli.

“The simple truth is that in order to assure public confidence in the ultimate decision to be made with respect to this matter, it is crucial that the investigation itself be independent and unbiased,” the district attorney said. “Quite frankly, it is my view that a homicide committed by a police officer cannot and should not be investigated by a fraternity of police officers all of whom are members of the same fraternity.

“Criminal investigations, in particular criminal investigations of homicide involving the use of deadly force by a police officer against a citizen of our county, requires complete impartiality and neutrality.”

Protection-from-abuse order

Monaghan had taken her son in to help him, but in the time leading up to the shooting, she grew to fear him. On May 19, the day before Ardo was killed, Monaghan obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order against her son over his violent, drug-fueled outbursts.

“He is very disrespectful,” she told county officials, according to court records. “When he is high he gets very violent and abusive. I’m afraid of him.”

Ardo had been attending the New Directions methadone clinic in Bethlehem Township for years but was continuing to use street drugs, the records say. Monaghan gave him a job maintaining her Meadow Creek Farm, agreeing to compensation of $10 an hour but usually paying him more. 

It wasn’t enough for Ardo, and when he would lose his temper he would scream in his mother’s face or punch the walls, she said. 

“The last two weeks have been brutal,” Monaghan told officials.

On May 19, he didn’t want to go to the methadone clinic. He stormed out of the house, threatening to “rob you blind,” he reportedly told his mother. 

Monaghan never stopped wanting to help her son.

“I got him back here for help and now he’s just …,” she said, breaking off in tears. “It’s a freaking nightmare.”

‘Rushed too quickly’

State police said they responded May 20 to the home owned by Monaghan for a call about a suicidal man and found Ardo with a fireworks mortar around his neck. They shot him after he refused their orders and attempted to light the fuse, according to police.

“I think they rushed too quickly,” said Monaghan, who was on the phone with her son as she watched the ordeal unfold. 

In the wake of the homicide, she fears troopers policing themselves is not enough.

“I just don’t agree with the internal procedure of the state police,” she said. “I just have a real problem with them having a license to kill.”

Morganelli orders probe of fatal state police shooting

Morganelli said he has no reason to believe state police acted improperly, but that an independent investigation is necessary to determine the facts. 

That is also the view of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys’ Association under a best-practices policy adopted in November in response to national concerns about police-involved shootings, Morganelli said.

“I am not saying that investigators of the PSP could not be objective,” he said. “What I am saying is that in order to have public confidence in the ultimate findings and decisions relative to the investigation itself, it is absolutely necessary that the matter be reviewed in an objective fashion so that the investigation itself does not become the subject of criticism. …

“The powers of the grand jury is the best way to assure that the ultimate outcome and decisions of this matter are accepted as a fair and righteous resolution of the circumstances as they occurred on May 20, 2017.”

D’Ambrosio pledged the continued cooperation of state police in the county’s probe, though he said it will be up to the troopers and their counsel as to whether they respond to the grand jury’s requests.

“Mr. Morganelli and our office have always had an excellent working relationship,” D’Ambrosio said. “I don’t see anything changing.”

Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @KurtBresswein. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

 

Chemical explosives reportedly found in Bucks County home

Pennsylvania State Troopers made the discovery at the home on Route 611, about 12.5 miles south of Easton.

Pennsylvania State Police responding to a Bucks County home o…

Pa. high court rules police videos are public record

The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of a lower-court decision granting access to state troopers’ dash camera video.

Pennsylvania’s highest court said Tuesday the public should have access to dash camera video footage unless the police agency can prove it amounts to criminal investigative material and may be redacted.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of a lower-court decision granting access to video shot by the dash cameras of two state troopers’ vehicles as they responded to a 2014 crash near State College. The majority says police vehicle recordings, as a general rule, are not exempt from public disclosure.

The state police had argued the recordings always contain criminal investigative material, but Justice Kevin Dougherty wrote that such determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis.

In the dispute before the court, he said, the video showed troopers investigating the crash scene and talking to the drivers and bystanders.

The decision said the only part of the recordings that is potentially investigative was the audio from witness interviews — portions that had been ordered redacted by a lower court.

“PSP simply does not explain how the video portion of the (recordings) captured any criminal investigation,” Dougherty wrote.

State police had argued the videos should be exempt under the Right-to-Know Law and a state law limiting access to criminal records. An agency spokesman said the case was under review.

The state associations of county commissioners and township supervisors had supported the state police’s position, arguing the response to a traffic crash made the recordings investigative in nature.

The requester, Michelle Grove, wanted videos taken after a crash in Potters Mills, about 15 miles east of State College. One driver was cited for not wearing a seatbelt and the other for failing to yield.

A message for Grove’s lawyer was not immediately returned.

In a dissent, Chief Justice Thomas Saylor argued state law provided for a broad criminal-investigative exception to access.

The other dissent, by Justice Sallie Mundy, said video without sound can provide investigative information, citing as examples “a witness’s demeanor, physical condition and gestures, which give context to the statements provided. As such, they are as related to the inquiry as are the contents of the statements.”

Unlike in some other states, video from police dash cameras is not widely available in Pennsylvania, largely because police agencies have deemed the information to be exempt under the Right-to-Know Law and the Criminal History Record Information Act.

Melissa Melewsky, lawyer for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, said the Supreme Court’s ruling should mean more footage will become available.

“I would hope that would be the result,” she said. “The court was clear that just because police are involved in gathering the video, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s investigatory under the law.”

In November, a survey of public access by Pennsylvania newspapers found 10 of 25 requests for dash camera footage were denied by police agencies on the basis of those laws. In 10 other instances, police said they didn’t have the tapes. Five departments disclosed at least some of what their officers’ vehicle cameras recorded at the specific incidents sought by requesters.

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Body of missing biker found after 5-day search

Kevin M. Woolf, 32, had been the subject of a search in Northampton and Monroe counties.

The body of a man last known to be off-road riding his motorcycle was found Saturday…

Pa. state police open satellite office to speed up response times

Troopers will have a new place to write reports, do paperwork and make calls in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Don’t be alarmed if you regularly see Pennsylvania State Police …