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State trooper arrested, charged in police brutality case

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Pennsylvania State Trooper Ryan Luckenbaugh was arrested and charged Friday. He's accused of brutalizing skateboarder Chris Siennick during an arrest in May of last year on Harrisburg's Restaurant Row.

We informed Siennick of those charges Friday at his home in Midtown Harrisburg and he had a one-word, skateboarder response.

"Awesome," Siennick said.

No one answered the phone or the door at Luckenbaugh's Upper Allen Township home Friday.

But the court paperwork does speak of an act so disturbing other police blew the whistle.

The affidavit says that Siennick was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and sitting on the corner of Second and Locust Streets when Luckenbaugh kicked him in the face, "causing his head and body to recoil backwards." The actual impact was not caught on video because it occurred below the camera, but responding Harrisburg police officers witnessed the kick. When state police investigators asked them about it, they did not protect their fellow policeman. They said "the kick was neither reasonable nor justified given the circumstances," according to the affidavit.

"I'll agree with that completely," Siennick said. "And I'm glad they spoke out against it."

Luckenbaugh's partner that night was Trooper Michael Trotta. He was not charged in the incident, but he was fired by PSP last year for undisclosed reasons. Siennick said Trotta was also abusive during the arrest.

"He was talking a whole bunch of crap to me the entire time it was going on," he said. "It was really a disempowering experience."

Luckenbaugh faces three misdemeanors (2 counts official oppression, 1 count simple assault)  and a summary offense (harassment). Siennick wishes there was a felony charge but the Dauphin County DA's office tells ABC27 News that the evidence didn't support it. Luckenbaugh is now suspended without pay and if convicted would be removed from the State Police.

"Somebody that's gonna abuse the power that we give them to protect us, they don't deserve it," Siennick said.

Siennick admits to flipping off police after they called him a slur as they cruised past him around 2 a.m. on May 16. The affidavit said Siennick was belligerent and yelled profanity at the officers as they attempted to arrest him. But the troopers claimed that Siennick had thrown an object at their patrol car and had spit at them as the reason for their initial pursuit of him. The affidavit said there is no evidence that either of those things happened.

"I didn't spit at their car. I didn't throw anything at the car," Siennick said. "That's something they really tried to stick in with my initial arrest record. It didn't make any sense then and it doesn't make any sense now."

Siennick hopes to make dollars and cents for his trouble. He's pursuing a federal civil lawsuit and says the criminal charges will aid his case. After being hit with a Taser, pepper spray and a boot, Siennick faced numerous charges and spent three weeks in Dauphin County prison. When the DA's office saw video of the incident, it immediately released Siennick, dropped all charges and recommended that State Police investigate the troopers involved.

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