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Greensburg man accuses city, officers of excessive force

| Saturday, July 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Greensburg man has sued the city and several police officers over alleged use of excessive force and violation of his civil rights from a 2010 traffic stop.

Edward Wisneski, 42, names officers Shawn Denning, Regina DePelligrin, Jason Dieter. Lt. Douglas Marcoz, Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons and former Capt. George Seranko as defendants in his suit in federal court in Pittsburgh.

He is seeking damages for mental anguish, loss of income, pain and suffering, and humiliation.

The city and police have denied Wisneski's claims in a response they filed to the complaint. Depositions are scheduled for September.

Wisneski alleges Denning punched him in the face for no reason during a vehicle stop on July 4, 2010. Wisneski claims he blocked a second punch.

DePelligrin then appeared and twice tasered him, according to the complaint.

Wisneski drove away to flee from the officers and was then pursued by Denning, DePelligrin, Marcoz and Dieter, according to the suit.

The four officers stopped Wisneski.

“All four defendant officers then attempted to physically drag and remove Wisneski from the vehicle, injuring him in the process because they would not remove his seat belt,” according to the complaint. “Defendant officers attempted to ‘drag' plaintiff Wisneski through an open and small window rather than attempt to open the door and allow … Wisneski to exit the vehicle.”

Wisneski said he suffered multiple scrapes, cuts and bruises and was bleeding from his face and nose.

“Wisneski sustained these injuries in his arrest despite the fact that he committed no violence and injured no one,” according to the suit written by attorney Robert Owsiany of Pittsburgh. “Defendant officers utilized unnecessary, excessive and brutal tactics in order to subdue nonviolent plaintiff Wisneski.”

Wisneski said Denning stopped him on March 14, 2010, and followed his vehicle at other times.

The Greensburg resident maintains that when he sought videos from the police cars, he was told “none of the cameras were working,” and no video was given to him, according to his complaint.

He is suing Lyons, Seranko, Marcoz and other unknown supervisors for not training their officers properly and “covering up” the misuse of excessive force.

Lyons denied Wisneski's claims on Friday.

“I don't know his motivations, but we're quite confident about how the officers handled the incident, that (their actions) were appropriate,” he said.

Denning stopped Wisneski for suspected drunken driving and was about to administer field tests, attorney Brian Gabriel of Pittsburgh states in the city's response.

Denning reached into Wisneski's vehicle to remove the keys after Wisneski attempted to restart his vehicle. Wisneski grabbed Denning, who freed himself and struck Wisneski on the left side of the face, according to the response.

DePelligrin tasered Wisneski after seeing Denning being pulled into the car, according to the response.

Wisneski then drove away with officers in pursuit. Marcoz was not near Wisneski's vehicle when the officer re-encountered him, the answer contends.

Wisneski's injuries did not result from excessive force, Gabriel said.

Police were in the process of installing cameras in cars when the incident occurred, and they were not operational yet, according to the answer.

Wisneski was sentenced to serve up to two years in prison after his conviction on charges of fleeing or eluding police, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and driving under the influence, according to Westmoreland County Court records.

He appealed his case to state Superior Court, which backed the lower court's rulings. The state Supreme Court opted not to hear his case, according to court records.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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