A Scranton police officer faces assault and other charges for allegedly hitting a man and a woman while off duty during a fight outside a nightclub in the city earlier this week.
Patrolman Mark Miller, 31, of 947 Johler Ave., was charged Thursday with terroristic threats, official oppression, disorderly conduct, harassment and two counts of simple assault. He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Alyce Farrell on $5,000 unsecured bail and released.
Patrolman Miller has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, Police Chief Dan Duffy said, adding an internal investigation is being conducted. Patrolman Miller's annual salary is $49,926.
According to a criminal complaint, Patrolman Miller, Christopher Kahanic, 26, and Brian Gannon, 27, started a fight with Robert Ruddy and his cousin, Michelle Smolskis, outside the V Spot Night Club at 906 Providence Road about 11:25 p.m. on Sunday. The criminal complaint states that Patrolman Miller punched Ms. Smolskis in the face and pushed her to the ground when she attempted to break up the fight with Mr. Ruddy.
Mr. Gannon, of 658 N. Hyde Park Ave., is charged with simple assault, impersonating a public servant, disorderly conduct and harassment. Mr. Kahanic, of 430 N. St. Frances Cabrini Ave., is charged with disorderly conduct and harassment.
Lackawanna County Detective John Munley said Mr. Gannon and Mr. Kahanic, who are not police officers, are expected to turn themselves in this morning.
After the arraignment on Thursday, Patrolman Miller declined to comment.
"Officer Miller maintains his innocence and plans to fight for his innocence," said Jason Shrive, Patrolman Miller's attorney.
The incident had been turned over to the district attorney's office so there would not be an apparent conflict of interest, District Attorney Andy Jarbola said. The office started its investigation on Tuesday. As part of the investigation, Lackawanna County Detective John Munley reviewed a surveillance video that showed Patrolman Miller hitting Ms. Smolskis in the face and taking her to the ground, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that Patrolman Miller, Mr. Gannon and Mr. Kahanic arrived at the bar on Sunday and attempted to walk in with alcohol while visibly intoxicated.
Matthew Sobieski, who was working security, would not let them in, and the trio identified themselves as "Scranton cops."
The complaint says Patrolman Miller and Mr. Gannon then showed Mr. Sobieski badges. Patrolman Miller used his police badge.
Detective Munley said they do not know what type of badge Mr. Gannon showed.
Mr. Sobieski, who did not know the three men, then asked Patrolman Miller to again show his badge so he could write down its number, but Patrolman Miller refused, according to the complaint. In a subsequent written statement provided to police, Mr. Sobieski said he requested the three men leave or he would call police. At that point, Patrolman Miller used an expletive against Mr. Sobieski and said, "I'm a Scranton cop," according to the criminal complaint.
Meanwhile, Ms. Smolskis was talking with Mr. Ruddy outside of the bar.
Mr. Ruddy, who was a security employee at the bar but not working, asked Patrolman Miller, Mr. Gannon and Mr. Kahanic to leave. Patrolman Miller then started a fight with Mr. Ruddy, punched him in the face twice and took him to the ground, the criminal complaint states.
Ms. Smolskis attempted to break up the fight and stepped in front of Patrolman Miller, according to the complaint, then Patrolman Miller hit her and took her to the ground.
Mr. Sobieski saw Mr. Miller, Mr. Gannon and Mr. Kahanic "beating" Ms. Smolskis and Mr. Ruddy with closed fists and stepping on their chests, according to the complaint
BY JOSH MROZINSKI (Staff Writer)
Published: June 17, 2011
Mr. Sobieski told police they did not stop hitting Ms. Smolskis and Mr. Ruddy until they heard sirens from police vehicles.
With the arrival of police, the three men wleft. The criminal complaint states Patrolman Miller yelled expletives at Mr. Sobieski, told him he would kill him and put him in jail for the "rest" of his life.
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