WARNING: The video below contains graphic language and content.
TOWANDA – A YouTube video which offers evidence that PA State Troopers in Towanda severely beat a man while in handcuffs, has gone viral and led to protests calling for justice.
Robert Leone of Vestal, NY, was arrested, tasered and beaten by State Police after a slow speed chase in March of 2010.
On Friday, protesters took to the streets outside a Bradford County courthouse. The video of Leone’s arrest has gone viral, with nearly 100,000 views in the past week.
Leone and his family have filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the PA State Police, the Borough of Towanda, and the five Troopers involved. Leone alleges his civil rights were violated and he was brutally beaten and assaulted by police.
According to WETM News, District Attorney Daniel Barret says Leone resisted arrest. ”The other people that may have opinions on the evidence weren’t there,” said Barrett. “They can have whatever opinions they want. But that’s why we have courtrooms here and not just plazas out front.”
Barret’s statements, however, seemed to be contradicted by the video.
Leone was convicted of simple assault, resisting arrest, fleeing or attempting to elude an officer and accidents involving damage. He was originally charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault on a police officer. One of the State Troopers reportedly suffered a broken hand from punching Leone in the head.
Protesters have accused the Towanda department of a cover-up, and are calling for a national investigation into the actions of the five State Troopers involved.
Leone, who was found not guilty of 20 of the 24 charges lodged against him, received 1 1/2 to 4 years in prison. He remains incarcerated.
An internal investigation by the State Police found no wrongdoing on the part of the five Troopers.