Lawyer sues city, county, alleging retaliation over raccoon shooting

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Kansky Kansky -

WILKES-BARRE — The saga of the lawyer and the raccoon has taken a new turn.

Attorney Lawrence Kansky Jr., who was charged for shooting an injured critter to death last May, has filed federal lawsuits against Wilkes-Barre Police and Luzerne County, claiming he was harassed by arresting officer Richard Harding months after the charges were dropped, and inappropriately stripped of his firearm license by county Sheriff Brian Szumski.

The suits were filed on Kansky’s behalf by attorney Cynthia L. Pollick.

The shooting

The suits, filed on Thursday, stem from a May incident in which Kansky fatally shot a raccoon in the area of West North and Darling Streets in Wilkes-Barre. Kansky uses a building in the area as storage.

Kansky, a local defense attorney, repeatedly called 911 over the course of an eight-hour period, reporting the raccoon had been grievously injured, finally resorting to shooting it with his .38-caliber pistol after receiving no response.

The attorney had been charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and a single count of disorderly conduct, but these charges were dropped by Magisterial District Judge Michael Dotzel after a nearly two-hour long preliminary hearing in September.

Alleged harassment

“On or about Dec. 31, 2019, at 11:45 a.m., defendant Police Officer Richard Harding pulled behind (Kansky) in a no-parking zone and yelled and screamed at (Kansky) that he was looking for him,” Pollick writes in the suit.

The suit goes on to say that Harding told Kansky he “was a liar, no hero, and got lucky.” The suit says Harding was in full uniform when this occurred.

Kansky claims he attempted to get away from Harding as he was frightened and “had no firearm in his possession.” Kansky says he reported the alleged harassment to 911.

The suit, which names Wilkes-Barre and Police Chief Joseph Coffay as defendants, says Harding violated Kansky’s constitutional rights to due process, additionally saying the city failed to properly train officers like Harding to “not intimidate a citizen after successfully defending a criminal action.”

Sheriff’s actions

Kansky’s suit against the county, meanwhile, claims Szumski wrongfully revoked his firearm license without allowing Kansky an opportunity to respond to the decision.

Kansky additionally claims Szumski threatened criminal charges if he did not relinquish his license within five days.

In addition to the county itself, Szumski and the Sheriff’s Department are both named as defendants.

Kansky is seeking an unspecified amount of compensation from the suits.

Reached Friday afternoon, Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri declined to comment because the case deals with pending litigation.

City of Wilkes-Barre policy has also been not to comment on matters of pending litigation.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan