ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania police officer seen on video kicking a protester sitting on the street during civil unrest in Erie will not face any criminal charges in the matter, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri also said the protester will not face charges stemming from the May 30 incident.
Speaking at a news conference, Daneri said the officer’s actions did not warrant prosecution. He added that the officer, who has not been identified by city officials, had the right to use that kind of force under the circumstances.
Daneri also mentioned that at the time the protester - Hannah Silbaugh, 21 - was kicked, police and a law enforcement vehicle needed to get past a line of protesters to attend to more serious violence in the area. Daneri said the protesters could have been charged with failure to disperse, but his office declined to file those charges because of the facts and in the interest of moving forward.
Erie Mayor Joe Schember had announced June 15 that the officer would be suspended for three days without pay and would remain on desk duty until he completed sensitivity training.
Schember and Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny have both said the investigation had concluded that the officer followed approved procedures and his use of force was technically justified. But the mayor said his actions warranted discipline.
The altercation happened during nationwide demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd. Police said several hundred people descended on City Hall at night and began spray painting the building, breaking windows, pulling parking meters out of the ground, vandalizing shops and restaurants and throwing objects at police. Officers used tear gas and tried to disperse the crowd.
In the video, the officer is seen approaching Silbaugh as she is seated in the middle of the street and kicking her over. Silbaugh filed an internal affairs complaint alleging that the officer assaulted her by kicking her.
Her lawyer, Timothy McNair, has taken legal steps toward filing a lawsuit.
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