HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A state police trooper has been charged in the beating of a Harrisburg man last year.
A criminal complaint filed Friday charges Trooper Ryan Luckenbaugh with two misdemeanor counts of official oppression, a misdemeanor count of simple assault, and a summary harassment count.
Luckenbaugh, 36, of Mechanicsburg, is accused of kicking Chris Siennick in the face while Siennick was seated on the ground and handcuffed behind his back, according to the charging documents filed by the Internal Affairs Division of the Pennsylvania State Police.
He also subjected Siennick to arrest, detention, search, seizure, or mistreatment based on false allegations and facts, the criminal complaint states.
As ABC 27 first reported last year, Siennick was riding his skateboard near Second and Locust Streets on May 16 when he says Luckenbaugh and Trooper Michael Trotta called him a gay slur from their police vehicle.
Siennick admits making an obscene hand gesture to the officers. He says they circled the block, got out of their car and chased him. Siennick says they hit him with a baton and twice hit him with a Taser. After he fell to the ground, Siennick says they punched and kicked him.
Siennick was arrested on numerous charges and spent three weeks in jail with a high bail. After reviewing videotape of the incident, the Dauphin County district attorney’s office decided to drop all charges against Siennick and recommended Internal Affairs investigate the actions of Trotta and Luckenbaugh.
According to the arrest papers, the complaint filed by Luckenbaugh claimed that Siennick failed to obey verbal commands to move from the roadway, displayed an obscene gesture, and struck the police vehicle “with either his person or an unidentified object” when the troopers first encountered him.
The troopers did not stop, nor did they attempt to take Siennick into custody, but drove past him a second time. Luckenbaugh wrote that Siennick spit on the police car as they passed, but again the troopers did not stop.
The police car’s camera did not record the second encounter, nor did it capture the sound of anything striking the vehicle. The troopers are heard talking about Siennick being in the roadway and giving a middle finger, but they made no comments about anything hitting the car, the complaint against Luckenbaugh states.
After Siennick was Tasered, pepper sprayed, and handcuffed, the camera shows he was acting belligerent and yelling loud profanities. A spitting sound is heard, and Luckenbaugh delivered a kick and said, “spit on that.” Harrisburg city police officers who were on the scene said the kick struck Siennick in the face, and they did not believe it was reasonable or justified, according to the complaint.
Luckenbaugh also claimed in his paperwork that Siennick had a heavy odor of suspected alcohol, but one Harrisburg police officer told investigators he didn’t smell anything and another didn’t believe Siennick was intoxicated.
Luckenbaugh’s complaint further alleged that Siennick refused a breath test, but investigators said at no point in the police car video and audio did anyone offer Siennick a test, and city police officers didn’t recall anyone requesting one.
Luckenbaugh, a trooper since 2006, has been suspended without pay. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.
The case is being prosecuted by the Dauphin County district attorney’s office.
Siennick has filed a federal lawsuit naming both troopers.
Trotta was fired last year. A state police spokeswoman said his termination was due to an “internal matter.”Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.