Last summer, Gregory Longenecker was run over with a bulldozer during a police chase over a few cannabis plants, and now his family is suing the state police and the game commission.
The 51-year-old man was spotted by police and a Pennsylvania Game Commission employee near about ten cannabis plants that he and his friend were reportedly tending to. The two men fled the scene. While his friend was quickly apprehended, Longenecker managed to flee. Police soon sent a helicopter to follow him, while a state trooper and game warden gave chase with a bulldozer.
After Longenecker escaped through the thick brush in the woods, officers in the helicopter relayed instructions to the bulldozer in an attempt to find the hiding man. The bulldozer tore through the thick brush where Longenecker was hiding, eventually running over him. He was not found until hours after the chase was called off. Sadly, Longenecker’s body was found trapped under the bulldozer—he was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Longenecker’s uncle, Mike Carpenter, who is named as a plaintiff in the federal suit, told the Associated Press:
“They killed a beautiful human being, a caring, loving man. He’ll never be able to share his life with us, or us with him, again. For no reason. He wasn’t hurting anyone.”
Police conducted an internal investigation and determined that Longenecker “attempted to allude apprehension and intentionally crawled under the bulldozer when it came to a brief 30 second stop.”
However, Longenecker’s family doesn’t believe the assessment, and they want justice.
Longenecker’s friend David B. Light was with him that morning and believes there is no way that his friend would have crawled under the bulldozer intentionally. Light explained:
“That morning, Gregory was not high or under the influence. He was normal. There is no way Gregory crawled underneath the back of the bulldozer. It is unthinkable and ridiculous that anyone would say he crawled underneath.”
The family’s lawyer, Jordan Strokovsky, says the police department needs to be held accountable for what they did:
“State police ran Gregory Longenecker over with a government-operated bulldozer and essentially turned him into human roadkill. There will be a thorough investigation, and a lot of questions will be answered, and ultimately, those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable.”
Oddly enough, cannabis is legal for medical use in the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, lawmakers in the state introduced legislation that would legalize the substance for recreational use just this week. Considering the shifting legal status of cannabis, it is alarming to see such heavy-handed tactics being used against cannabis users and growers. It seems that some police departments aren’t ready to give up the war on drugs so easily.
Featured image: TFTP