Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Scott Arthur Evans sentenced Ryan S. Luckenbaugh to nine to twenty-two months in the Dauphin County Prison today. Luckenbaugh, 38 of Mechanicsburg, was convicted by a jury in February after a four day jury trial. The Commonwealth alleged that on May 16, 2015, Luckenbaugh, while employed as a Pennsylvania State Police trooper, kicked a handcuffed man in the head and then lied on a criminal complaint. A jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three criminal counts which included two counts of Official Oppression and one count of Simple Assault.
At trial, the Commonwealth established that Luckenbaugh, who was driving a patrol vehicle, first observed the victim, Chris Siennick, riding a skateboard on Second Street in Harrisburg. After Siennick gave the trooper a middle finger, Luckenbaugh and his partner, Michael Trotta, then encountered Siennick at the intersection of Second and Locust Streets. A struggle then ensued and Siennick was taken into custody. Once in custody and while handcuffed and seated on the ground, Luckenbaugh kicked Siennick in the head. Several Harrisburg Police officers who responded to the incident intervened.
Luckenbaugh then filed a criminal complaint against Siennick that included numerous false allegations about the incident. Luckenbaugh falsely alleged that Siennick struck their patrol vehicle with an object, spat into the vehicle and was intoxicated. A dash camera that recorded the incident revealed that at no time did Siennick touch the vehicle or spit. Based on the complaint and the false allegations, Siennick’s bail was set at $250,000 and he spent two weeks in the Dauphin County Prison before he was released at the request of the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.
At sentencing, Luckenbaugh apologized for his actions. The prosecutor assigned to the case, Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen R. Zawisky, asked that Luckenbaugh receive jail time. Zawisky stated: “His actions not only hurt Chris Siennick but severely harmed law enforcement as a whole and the criminal justice system. The system relies on police honesty and integrity and when that is eroded, you are left with distrust and that is unacceptable.”
Both Judge Evans and A.D.A. Zawisky noted the negative effect a case like this has on the criminal justice system. Judge Evans also emphasized the fact that the Harrisburg Police properly reported the incident. He asked that the officers involved be commended for their actions. On that point Zawisky asserted: “While we had a state trooper make a horrible decision, we also had several Harrisburg Police officers, specifically Officer Jon Fustine, step up and do what was right. Without Officer Fustine doing the right thing, this wrong possibly would not have been detected and that is concerning.”
Zawisky further wanted to commend the investigative work of State Police Lieutenant Steven Masteller who investigated the incident and prepared a thorough case for trial. A.D.A. Ryan Shovlin also aided in the prosecution of Mr. Luckenbaugh.