Springdale, Pennsylvania is a small town of about 20,000 about 18 miles outside of Pittsburgh. Recently they have had several incidents of police abuse, and in addition to being abused, they are paying for the privilege. But that’s OK, because they are getting what they deserve.
In the winter of 2010, Allegheny County Police Officer Ray Hrabos was going to his home in Springdale when he stopped to ask Springdale Police Officer Mark Thom if he could move so he could get by. Hrabos was immediately assaulted by Thom and thought Thom was going to kill him, even though Hrabos had identified himself as an officer. Two weeks later, the police department filed terroristic threat, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct charges against Hrabos. They were dismissed and caused the judge to comment that it was insane to bring that into his courtroom. Hrabos sued and settled with the city for almost $100,000.
In 2011, Gary Cahill was arrested and was sitting in the back of Thom’s squadcar when Thom began to strike him and to use his taser on Cahill. Cahill was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest, and other charges, but all charges were dismissed. Cahill has also sued, stating that Thom violated his rights and the city had prior notice of Thom’s violent tendencies.
But wait – it gets better.
Earlier this year, Thom pled guilty to violating Cahill’s civil rights in U.S. District Court, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Thom faces up to 2-1/2 years in prison. So of course Thom resigned as a police officer. And then Springdale hired Thom in a non-police capacity.
Huh? This guy has already cost the city $100K, pled guilty to a federal felony for violating civil rights, will cost the city more in the Cahill lawsuit, and you rehire him? And it is not the department head that did it, it was the city council.
According to Council President Dave Finley, Thom was the victim of “character assassination.” Finley stated that as far as he was concerned, Thom did a fine job as an officer, and when asked about Thom’s guilty plea, said “I don’t care.” “Maybe he was wrongfully accused.” “He pled guilty, yeah. You keep harping on the pled guilty. Are you asking me if he’s a good man or did he plead guilty? It’s an obvious thing: he accepted a plea bargain. I’m telling you he’s a good man in the eyes of the residents of Springdale. He has two young children and we take care of our own.”
Well, Finley may take care of his own, but he sure doesn’t take care of protecting the citizens from rogue officers. Another former officer ,Jeremy Liotta, is facing theft, drug, and impersonating an officer charges.
And the reason Springdale citizens deserve the abuse? They elected this bozo and the other four council members that rehired Thom. There has been no indication of protests or concern by the citizens. You get what you allow, and you’re allowing this to be done to you. Plus you get to pay for it too.
- Joseph Liotta was fired by the council from his position after cash was found to be missing. He sued and lost his case. See Liotta v. Borough of Springdale, 985 F.2d 119 (3d Cir. 1993). It is not known if Joseph is related to Jeremy.