Judge’s order to release WB police report stands; city to comply

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — An attorney for the city said it will comply with a judge’s order and release a copy of the report on the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department for use in a pending civil case in Luzerne County Court.

“We’re turning over the report,” attorney John Dean, of the Elliott Greenleaf law firm, said Thursday.

The order Monday by Commonwealth Court Senior Judge J. Wesley Oler Jr. put back into motion the case that had been stayed for more than a month for appellate review of the April 27 order that the report be turned over within 48 hours.

“The Commonwealth Court has denied Wilkes-Barre’s petition for review so we’re back in the trial court. Wilkes-Barre has to produce the full report,” said Kingston attorney Neil O’Donnell.

The report released March 30 and prepared by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association was critical of former chief Marcella Lendacky’s management. The city cited an exemption under the state’s Right to Know law as a reason not to make it public and maintained it was not relevant to the civil case filed by a woman severely injured in a 2014 crash caused by a police pursuit.

Even though the local newspapers obtained copies of the report paid for with taxpayer funds and published it online, O’Donnell sought an authenticated copy from the city in the course of representing Donna Jackson in the civil case.

Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb had previously ordered the city to produce the report for discovery.

O’Donnell had said the report contains information regarding police training and a statement from Lendacky that problems with police policies date to previous administrations. Lendacky, who retired June 3, was not the chief when Jackson’s crash occurred in 2014. The city is in the process of finding a replacement for Lendacky.

Jackson’s case against Wilkes-Barre, Hanover Township and their police departments had a May 29 trial date that will now have to be rescheduled, O’Donnell said.

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By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.