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Partygoer's suit claims excessive force

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

A Cheswick man filed a civil rights lawsuit on Monday against Harmar Township and one of its former police officers for allegedly firing a Taser and using excessive force against him when he was a high school student in 2011.

Anthony Pane, no age available, of Sherman Street is alleging that Harmar police didn't properly train its officers to use the Taser, which administers an electrical shock to briefly disable a suspect.

Pane alleges that Patrolman Brian Coughlin used a Taser to subdue him just before midnight on March 24, 2011. Pane was a Springdale High School senior.

Police were responding to a neighbor's complaint about loud noise at a party in Harmar.

Coughlin, Harmar Township officials and Pane's attorney Gianni Florio declined to comment on Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Pane alleges he was handcuffed soon after he was shocked and that police misidentified him even though he told them his correct name.

The lawsuit claims that police made fun of Pane for losing control of his bladder when the Taser's electrical charge hit him. Further, after being detained for more than an hour, he was eventually released and charges were never filed.

“Pane was never charged with a crime, as he never broke any law,” the lawsuit says in part.

The lawsuit charges excessive and unreasonable force was exerted against Pane without sufficient reason. As a result, the lawsuit claims, Pane feared for his life.

The lawsuit says Pane suffered neck injuries and chest pain, a cut on his knee and psychological trauma.

Pane said that teachers and students at his school made fun of him in person and on Facebook.

Coughlin and a Cheswick officer were backing up a Springdale Borough officer who was investigating a noise complaint from a party in Springdale, according to Springdale police Chief Joe Naviglia.

Harmar police Chief Jason Domaratz said Coughlin was a part-time officer and resigned more than a year ago.

Springdale isn't specified in the seven-page lawsuit. Harmar and Coughlin are named as defendants.

The lawsuit was electronically posted on Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Coughlin, now a police officer in Turtle Creek, said he didn't know about the lawsuit and declined to comment on it.

Harmar Solicitor Charles Means said, “Neither me or any township official have any comment on this because we haven't reviewed the lawsuit.”Harmar Supervisors Chairman Michael Hillery said the township has insurance and is reviewing the matter.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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