The family of the 51-year-old Gregory Longenecker is the pursuit of justice after she believes his civil rights were violated by authorities when they slew him with a bulldozer while trying to arrest him for growing marijuana last year, a federal lawsuit turns out
(Court Listener )
The family of Gregory Longenecker says the 51-year-old civil rights have been violated by the authorities, who slew him with a bulldozer last year, while trying to arrest him for the cultivation of less than a dozen marijuana plants, according to a federal lawsuit.
Longenecker, a short-order cook from Reading, Pa., had allegedly been secretly growing 10 pot plants deep in the woods of a wildlife park in Berks County when a game commission worker discovered the car and called the police, the Washington Post reported. When they arrived, a friend who was accompanying Longenecker that day was arrested, but the life-long Grateful Dead fan fled into the heavy underbrush of the domain.
An hours-long search ensued, with a helicopter tracking Longenecker the movements of the top and two police departments combing of the country, which was so thick with vegetation that a tracking dog could not agree, according to the Post. The game commissioner who discovered Longenecker the plants was driving a bulldozer and a police-officer, who, as Mark Weiss, reportedly got on the heavy machinery in an attempt to move through the landscape.
What happened next is hotly debated — Pennsylvania State Trooper David Boehm first said Longenecker would not have died in a chase, because there was no pursuit. Then, authorities concluded it was possible Longenecker had a heart attack during the run from the police. Next, the Police said that they are necessary for the use of a bulldozer because “there is no way that you could walk by that stuff,” the Washington Post reported.
One thing is for sure: an autopsy showed that Longenecker died of traumatic injuries, as “virtually all” of the bones and organs in his body, from his pelvis to collarbone were broken, broken and /or torn.” An investigation by the Berks County District Attorney about his death as a coincidence.
On this Saturday, feb. 23, 2019 photo, a sticker, and call for justice for Greg Longenecker is to be seen on the rear window of his uncle Mike Carpenter is car in Reading, Pa. A federal lawsuit filed Monday, March 18, accusing Pennsylvania State Police of recklessness for the use of a bulldozer to chase and accidentally run over and kill Longenecker, who had fled after being caught growing marijuana on public land
(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)
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Longenecker the family argues in the lawsuit that the police knew the approximate area where he was, because troopers allegedly yelled over a PA system in the helicopter, “I see you are! Stand up!”
The bulldozer, “with a similar operation and characteristics of a military tank,” reportedly continued to move in the direction of Longenecker “knowing that he was in that area, and they also know they could not see in front of them,” the lawsuit says.
Longenecker was known by family and friends as an avid vegetable gardener and loving father figure for the children of his friend and “soulmate” of 25 years, depending on the Post. They say that they want the police to be held accountable for their “reckless” decision to make use of a bulldozer while trying to find Longenecker.
On this Saturday, feb. 23, 2019 photo, Mike Carpenter, uncle of Greg Longenecker, runs to the field where Longenecker was killed by a bulldozer in 2018
(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)
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“They killed a beautiful man, a caring, loving man,” said Longenecker’s uncle, Mike Carpenter, who is named as a plaintiff in the federal suit. “He will never be able to live with us, or us with him, once again. For no reason. He was not hurting anyone.”
The medical use of marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2016, and the possession of small amounts of the drug is decriminalized in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. However, recreational use and cultivation of the plant is still illegal in most of the state.
The local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hit the police and called their actions that day, and not excessive force in an extreme way. They said that they believe that if Longenecker was arrested, charged and convicted, his sentence would likely be probation.
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“No matter your opinion about marijuana legalization, the punishment for growing cannabis should never be an extrajudicial death penalty,” NORML executive Director Erik Altieri said in a statement.
Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams has spoken in defense of the officers involved and said that Longenecker the family would still be angry if he was injured and not killed, according to the Message. He added that the efforts of the police were “reasonable and carried out in a safe manner.”