Excessive force case settled for $275,000
The state Attorney General's Office agreed to pay $275,000 to settle a federal lawsuit a Phoenix woman brought because a state police trooper forced her vehicle off the road after she ignored his signals to pull over during a drunken driving stop.
Shauna L. Huey, 29, claimed Trooper Guy Battestilli used excessive force in stopping her near Punxsutawney in April 2006.
The trooper responded in court papers that Huey had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 percent -- more than twice the legal limit -- when he stopped her. He cited her for drunken driving, fleeing police, reckless driving, speeding and other traffic offenses. Jefferson County court records show she was put into a pretrial program for first offenders.
Lauren Bozart, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, confirmed the settlement Thursday but couldn't provide specifics about why the state agreed to pay Huey.
State police Lt. Myra Taylor said she couldn't comment on the case. She said Battestilli remains a state trooper and that Pennsylvania troopers use the "precision immobilization technique" -- called PIT -- to stop vehicles and end police chases.
Huey's attorney, Tim O'Brien, didn't return calls seeking comment.
BSR Inc. driving school at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, W.Va., teaches police and security officers the PIT technique. Lee Chewey, director of training, said although the maneuver poses risk for the vehicle being stopped, it's a reasonably safe method for ending a pursuit when risk to the general public outweighs risk to the fleeing driver.
"It's a last-resort thing," he said.
Huey said in the lawsuit that Battestilli didn't have a "reasonable basis" to use the maneuver when he stopped her car on State Route 2017.
Battestilli responded that when he spotted Huey at 3:15 a.m., she was driving 58 to 60 mph in a 40 mph zone. When he activated his lights, she sped up slightly, to between 60 and 65 mph, and when he then turned on his siren she kept going, the trooper said.
Believing that Huey was trying to get away and because they were approaching a highway section with blind curves and possible oncoming traffic, Battestilli touched the left rear corner of Huey's vehicle with the right front corner of his vehicle and then hit the brakes, the trooper said in his response.
Both sides agree that Huey's vehicle, a Jeep Liberty, swerved and then struck an embankment. Huey claims her vehicle "flipped over"; the trooper's court response says it turned onto the driver's side.
Huey claimed in the lawsuit that she suffered unspecified injuries. The trooper's response said Huey was examined at an emergency room and released into police custody without treatment.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police obtain warrant against North Side 17-year-old in Penn Hills shooting
- Woman’s body found in Adams home
- Prime time not kind to Heinz Field
- State trooper struck by SUV in Westmoreland faces more surgery, long recovery
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Steelers offense puts up gaudy numbers in season’s 1st half
- Clairton police rounding up street-level drug dealers
- Pittsburgh asks judge to let abortion buffer zone remain during legal challenge
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, offense must adjust with CB Smith out
- Ferrante defense continues to question cyanide tests
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up