A motorist was viciously beaten, tasered, and maced repeatedly, then charged with 24 separate crimes and maliciously prosecuted for every one of them. He was beaten four (4) times over the course of 11-hours, and not once had he acted maliciously. The incident stemmed from his driving while on an unusually high dosage of legally-prescribed bipolar medication and a subsequent fender bender. Dash-cam footage revealed the extraordinary exaggerations made about the case — 2 years after it took place.
The Traffic Stop
Around 8:20 p.m. on March 8th, 2010, police received a 9-1-1 call regarding a car that had failed to stop after a minor traffic collision. The accident resulted in no injuries and no damage, but one of the drivers did not stop to exchange information. Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) dispatched troopers to investigate this alleged hit-and-run.
A car driven by Robert Leone, 31 at the time, matched the basic description of the car in question. Mr. Leone was driving just across the Pennsylvania border from his home in Vestal, NY. He had just finished star gazing at the Kopernick Observatory and Science Center and decided to go for a ride in the country while listening to his favorite music. He had consumed no alcohol or illegal substances, but it seems that his decision-making abilities may have been affected by his legally-prescribed medication used to treat his bipolar disorder.
PSP attempted to pull over Mr. Leone, who was traveling at a speed significantly UNDER the posted speed limit — 10 to 30 mph under. Leone stated at first he did not think the trooper was trying to stop him as he believed that he had done nothing wrong prior to the encounter. Police dash-cam video clearly showed Mr. Leone driving very slowly and in a very controlled manner. The only vehicles ever seen crossing the center line or driving erratically were the state police cars that were involved in this low speed following — contrary to sworn statements later given by the troopers.
The five marked cruisers following Mr. Leone could have easily boxed in Mr. Leone at low speed and caused him to stop. Instead, the troopers deployed stop-sticks and rammed his vehicle. A “PIT maneuver” was used to smash Leone into a rock wall, while still at low speed.
Once his car was immobilized, the senior trooper on scene, Corporal Roger Stipcak, stood on top of Mr. Leone’s hood and ordered him out of his car while aiming a taser at him. Mr. Leone COULD NOT comply with the trooper’s order because a state police car was intentionally blocking Leone’s driver-side door.
Mr. Leone was then tasered through his open sunroof and forcibly dragged to the ground through the passenger-side door and beaten by fellow troopers. The senior trooper who was standing on the hood of Leone’s car was then seen jumping directly onto Leone’s back from the hood of the car.
“You’ve got a long f***ing night ahead,” the officer menaced. “Do ya hear me?? Do ya f***ing hear me?!”
This was but the first threat of many Mr. Leone was going to receive over the next 11 hours. It was also the mildest. At no time was Leone videoed resisting or attempting to strike the officers.
After his first beating he was handcuffed and questioned. At that point Leone was arrested and placed in the back of a patrol car. Without advising Mr. Leone of his constitutional rights he was questioned a second time and responded with respectful answers of “yes sir,” and “no sir.”
During the questioning, the trooper accused Leone of intentionally spitting in the trooper’s face and used that alleged behavior as a reason to beat Mr. Leone — who was still handcuffed. The trooper then hog-tied the victim.
“Who do you think you’re messing with?” one officer challenged. “We’re the Pennsylvania State Police… it’s not just some chumps.”
After analyzing the audio portion of the dash-cam it appears that the trooper fabricated the spitting incident in order to justify the beating, even though spitting does not allow an officer to beat a prisoner.
An ambulance had initially been called to transport Mr. Leone, who had suffered multiple injuries. Instead, the trooper who had broken his hand while punching Leone received medical attention, and Mr. Leone — who was handcuffed and hog-tied — was transported to the hospital in the back of a patrol car.
Beaten Again in the Hospital
Robert Leone was still hog-tied when he was brought into the Towanda Hospital a fact documented in his medical records. Mr. Leone attempted to quietly tell the attending nurse what happened to him and begged her for help.
Unfortunately for him, one of the troopers overheard his plea. The exam room was ordered cleared of all medical personnel and a third round of beatings and taserings occurred while Mr. Leone was handcuffed to his gurney.
Police alleged that Leone “reached” at an officer — all the justification they needed for beating him with batons and using tasers multiple times.
The trooper later admitted at Leone’s trial that he was never hit by the defendant. But that did not stop Mr. Leone from being found guilty of assault for what took place in that room.
Mr Leone was discharged from the Towanda General Hospital in worse condition than he had arrived in.
Beaten Again at Police Barracks
After his treatment at the hospital, Mr. Leone was taken to the PSP Barracks Towanda for processing. While at the barracks, an arraignment was set up with an on-call judge who was located remotely and used a video-feed to connect with the police.
Mr. Leone was instructed not to look into the video camera during this arraignment and to only answer questions that he was asked. As soon as the video link was established, Mr. Leone looked directly into the camera and begged the judge for help. The trooper immediately disconnected the video link, claiming that a malfunction had occurred. With no cameras recording, Mr. Leone was severely beaten for a third time.
Beaten Again During Transport
While at the barracks, Leone stated that troopers told him that they could make it look like he committed suicide while in custody or they could throw him off of a bridge and state that somehow he got the rear door of the patrol car open and then jumped off of the bridge himself.
The prisoner was so sure the troopers were going to kill him that night, he tried to shuffle away when he was being escorted to the patrol car for transportation to the county jail, even though he was handcuffed and his feet were shackled.
His pathetic escape attempt gave police an opportunity to beat him once again, and this time douse him with pepper spray. His injuries were so severe at that point that he wasunconscious when he was delivered to the hospital for his second evaluation.
According to the hospital report, all of the injuries on Mr. Leone’s body were on his back and none were frontal, indicating that his injuries were not caused while being subdued because of any aggressive behavior. Apparently, the hospital staff themselves were so fearful of these troopers that they released Mr. Leone back into police custody only 26 minutes later — without treatment and while Mr. Leone was still semi-conscious. Mr Leone’s vital signs at this point showed him to be in serious physical distress.
Arrival in Jail
Mr. Leone was transported via patrol car in a semi-conscious state to the Bradford County Correctional Facility. He was received in such poor condition that the jail called their on-call staff physician to the jail to evaluate Mr. Leone.
“They put him on the phone and he starts screaming that he has been beaten within an inch of his life,” Robert’s mother, Joan Leone told WBNG. “They tried to kill him through the night. He has been threatened that they are going to kill him and make it look like a suicide or an accident.”
Numerous pictures of Leone’s injuries were taken by the prison staff in order to defend the prison — should it later be accused of mishandling the already-ravaged prisoner. (Subsequently, when the photographs were requested, the prison claimed that these pictures do not exist.)
A prison guard [name withheld] who befriended Leone told him that the jail administrators were lying because the guard saw the pictures for himself. The picture featured in this article is a copy of the actual booking photo taken by the prison.
Mr. Leone laid in a jail cell for days without proper treatment and probably should have died from his injuries. The prison would not release any information to Mr. Leone’s family about his condition for over 5 days. His family was not allowed to speak to him in person or on the phone nor would the prison allow any other visitors or legal counsel to visit him.
Since Robert Leone could not pay his outrageous $250,000.00 bail, he remained incarcerated for six months until his trial. While he languished in jail, he was denied any additional medical treatment — particularly for his head injuries — even though he had excellent private heath insurance to pay for it if necessary.
“The corruption in PA is so widespread that they’re going to keep him in for four years. Because they have no intention of letting him out because he’s going to be speaking about what’s happened to him,”Joan Leone said.
Railroaded With Charges
Robert Leone’s traumatic physical experience was followed by being charged with twenty-four (24) separate crimes: aggravated assault driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance escape simple assault reckless endangering another person resisting arrest fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer disorderly conduct failure to stop at the scene of an accident harassment failure to provide the proper information following an accident and failure to notify the authorities after an accident had occurred.
To go with his black eye and brutal beating,Mr. Leone was literally charged with breaking a trooper’s fist with his face— “aggravated assault” on a police officer. The 2 dozen charges included four serious felonies for which he could feasibly be spending the rest of his natural life in prison.
It appears that the cover-up of Leone’s beatings became so important that the Bradford County District Attorney personally took up the task of prosecuting the case. Despite having dash-cam video evidence in his possession — the same dash-cam video of which I made a documentary — DA Daniel Barrett attempted to prosecute all 24 counts against Robert Leone.
Of course, cops continuously lied and hid evidence. If a single good cop existed, the rest would not get away with this. And, naturally, the district attorney’s primary job was to protect the police, not the innocent.