Two women sue police over alleged beating by West Deer, Indiana Township police

(VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH)   Two West Deer women claim they were beaten by a West Deer police officer in August 2009, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

Cheryl Albinger, 44, of Reaghard Drive alleges she and her daughter, then 17-year-old Pamela Albinger, were attacked “without justification” by West Deer part-time police Officer Jesse Haschak.

The Albingers further allege several West Deer and Indiana Township officers observed the attack and did not intervene.

“They suffered severe lacerations, abrasions and other injuries,” said Scott Westcott, the Albingers’ attorney. “They were punched, beaten and dragged across the roadway.”

In addition to Haschak, the lawsuit names the townships, West Deer police Chief Jonathan Lape and Officers Dean Krakowiak, Tom Hart and Mike Shurina; Indiana Chief Robert Wilson and Officer Michael Dortenzo as defendants. The suit claims the townships, Lape and Wilson did not properly train the policemen.

Lape, Wilson, West Deer Manager Dan Mator and Indiana Manager Dan Anderson could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Westcott said Haschak resigned from the West Deer police department on Aug. 26, 2009 — two weeks after the incident with the Albingers. A home phone number for Haschak could not be located.

According to the lawsuit, Cheryl Albinger had just picked up her daughter from an ex-boyfriend’s West Deer house on Aug. 8, 2009, when she saw Haschak’s oncoming police car on East Union Road.

Since the daughter allegedly was assaulted by the unidentified boyfriend, Cheryl Albinger signaled to Haschak by flashing her car lights.

The Albingers allege Haschak “immediately became belligerent” and “violently removed” Pamela from her mother’s car. Haschak allegedly struck Pamela several times, even after she was handcuffed.

When Cheryl Albinger tried to intervene, Haschak reportedly “turned his assault upon the mother,” according to the lawsuit.

During the struggle, officers Hart, Krakowiak, Shurina and Dortenzo reportedly arrived and did not prevent the “ongoing assaultive behavior,” the Albingers claim.

As a result of the altercation, Cheryl Albinger was charged with three counts each of aggravated assault and harassment and one count each of disorderly conduct, obstruction of the administration of law and resisting arrest. The lawsuit indicates Pamela Albinger was not charged with a crime.

Two assault charges and one count of harassment were withdrawn during Albinger’s preliminary hearing, court records show. She was found not guilty of the remaining charges during a nonjury trial in September 2010.

“All of the charges were frivolous,” Westcott said.

The Albingers’ suit claims they incurred medical expenses, loss of wages and emotional distress as a result of their injuries. They also claim the alleged assault violated their civil rights and “was tantamount to gross negligence, false imprisonment, and … deliberate indifference and/or conscious shocking behavior.”

The women are seeking damages in excess of $75,000.

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