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Man files suit against police

| Monday, Jan. 22, 2001

A Cranberry man has filed a federal lawsuit against six police officers he says beat him and broke his right arm during an altercation and then purposely fractured his left wrist later while he was handcuffed to a hospital bed.

In his lawsuit, Paul Mosberger, of Franklin Road, says five Cranberry Township police officers and one Jackson Township officer beat him at his house during a call to the residence on Jan. 16, 1999.

Mosberger is seeking more than $50,000 in damages in the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 12 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Three Cranberry officers named in the lawsuit, Sgt. Jeff Widdowson, John O'Shea and Mark Shields, also were injured during the scuffle.

Widdowson, who injured his thumb and aggravated a bad back, has retired on disability. O'Shea is on light duty because of an injured back, and Shields received a gash in his head that required stitches but has returned to active duty.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Cranberry officers Bill Roberts and Jeffrey Schueler, Jackson Township officer Wayne Seibel and the townships of Cranberry and Jackson.

'We did a thorough investigation and are comfortable that we are not guilty,' said Steve Mannell, Cranberry's public safety director, who also is named in the lawsuit.

According to Mosberger's lawsuit, the Cranberry police officers and Jackson officer arrived at his residence at 1 a.m. and entered without permission. The officers tried to coax Mosberger down a flight of stairs, and when he would not come, the lawsuit states, Shields pulled his arm causing Mosberger to lose balance and fall into Shields and down the stairs.

After landing at the bottom of the steps, four officers got on Mosberger's back and handcuffed him. The lawsuit states the officers continued to hit Mosberger once he was handcuffed.

In an interview after the incident, Mannell said officers had done nothing wrong during the arrest of Mosberger.

Mannell described the incident as a 'very dangerous, imminent situation.'

Mannell said officers tried to arrest Mosberger on the steps of the home, but he resisted. In the process, Mannell said, three Cranberry officers and Mosberger were hurt.

First, Mosberger and Shields fell down the stairs, which was when Shields received a cut on his head that required stitches, Mannell said.

As the two men fell from the stairs, they knocked O'Shea down, and his shoulder was injured, Mannell said.

Then Widdowson's thumb was dislocated when he attempted to subdue Mosberger after the fall.

Mosberger has pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, Mannell said. He will be sentenced in late February.

Dominick DiRienzo can be reached at ddirienzo@tribweb.com or (724) 779-7124.

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