Reading, PA -- As TFTP reported, Pennsylvania State Troopers garnered national attention following a deadly officer-involved incident whereby a man was killed by a bulldozer commandeered by one of their officers. Gregory Longenecker, 51, was run over by the bulldozer and killed as the PA State Trooper and the dozer operated by the PA Game Commission were supposedly attempting to flush him out. After police refused to hold their own accountable, Longnecker's family is seeking justice in the form of a lawsuit.
After battling for justice for several years, it was announced this week that the state of Pennsylvania will pay $475,000 to the estate Longnecker — an insultingly small amount considering this man was crushed to death by cops in a bulldozer for growing a plant that is legal in many states.
"They must be held accountable for what they did. That's the bottom line. They cannot get away with this," said Michael Carpenter, an uncle of 51-year-old Gregory Longenecker. "He was very kind to everyone. Very kind, very passionate. Wouldn't harm anyone."
Before he was gruesomely killed, Longnecker and David Light were suspects in a then-discovered cannabis grow operation on state-owned land. Game Commission employees found a few pot plants the middle-aged Grateful Dead fan and short-order cook grew for personal use.
Local police were immediately notified by do-gooders with the Game Commission, who contacted PA State Police who sent out narcotics officers to investigate. Finding a vehicle nearby, troopers discovered the two individuals. Light turned himself in to police but Longnecker ran into the thick underbrush nearby which was observed by the PA State Police helicopter.
That’s when the PA State Trooper apparently got the bright idea to bulldoze the thick underbrush. The dozer then began to “blaze a trail” through the underbrush, according to PA State Police Information Officer David Beohm.
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“There’s no way that you could walk through that stuff up there,” Beohm said, implying also troopers must have known Longenecker was lying in the brush. Beohm said in a press conference at the time:
So as they’re blazing this trail through the brush the trooper tells the operator to ‘stop’. They look behind the bulldozer and then they saw the male that they were looking for was laying on the ground behind the bulldozer as they had already gone over that area. But I’m telling you that is so thick up there. There is no way you could see somebody laying in there.
Officers who were sworn to protect and serve the community and treat every suspect as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, decided to go on a rampage over a plant instead of simply following up with the man later. But once again, as TFTP has reported, it appears the Pennsylvania State Police conducted itself as judge, jury and executioner.
"They should not have run Gregory Longenecker over with a bulldozer, essentially turning this poor and harmless man into human roadkill," said attorney Jordan Strokovsky, who added that Longenecker's constitutional rights were violated. "By no means should a small amount of marijuana plants, whether it was his or not his, should be equated to a death sentence."
"The Pennsylvania State Police, they got to be held accountable for this, and the state Game Commission," said Carpenter. Sadly, this did not happen and it will be the taxpayers on the hook instead.
Thanks to the qualified immunity police officers often enjoy, the killing of American criminal suspects will likely continue until federal law is changed. The War on Drugs will continue to seek out individuals who possess, grow, or use cannabis, even though countless Americans die yearly from legal drugs. The drug war against a plant has to stop. It’s a plant, not a dangerous drug -- and no one deserves to be hunted and killed for growing, smoking, or otherwise possessing it.