Autopsy results determined that a Reading, Pennsylvania man was killed by “traumatic injuries” after being run over by a bulldozer driven by a state worker following the orders of a state trooper.
On July 9, a state worker clearing brush with a bulldozer on state land in Berks County noticed a car off the side of the road, so he called police. When the state police arrived, they found 10 marijuana plants and 2 men, David B. Light, 54, and Gregory Longenecker, 51, reported The Reading Eagle.
Light surrendered, but Longnecker ran from police, who called in a helicopter to help catch the man who grew plants in the land of the free.
A trooper took control of the bulldozer being driven by the state worker to chase the grower through the dense brush. Police have been very vague on the details of what happened next.
State Police spokesman David Boehm, said the bulldozer was clearing a path through the underbrush when the search was suspended. When they looked behind the bulldozer, they saw Longenecker’s body.
The autopsy determined the cause of death as “traumatic injuries.”
Boehm said police do not think Longenecker’s death was the result of police pursuit. “They were just trying to locate this guy with use of helicopter,” Beohm said, referring to using a helicopter to coordinate ground troops.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is outraged at police actions in this case, reported AP:
“We simply cannot understand how a man is dead over an investigation involving 10 cannabis plants,” said Patrick Nightingale, executive director of NORML’s Pittsburgh chapter and a former Allegheny County prosecutor. “The whole investigation was ridiculous. I’ve seen law enforcement take down major heroin traffickers that haven’t engaged in this level of aggression.”
NORML questions why police even needed to pursue the man the way they chose to.
“What was so hard about asking the guy you had in custody what his buddy’s name is? What was so hard about running the plates of the vehicle that drew their attention to the area? What was so hard about ripping up the (marijuana) plants?” said Nightingale, a defense lawyer.
The officer directing the bulldozer is on administrative leave during the investigation.
Jeff Reidy of NORML said the 10 marijuana plants probably had a street value of less than $5,000, and they were probably only for personal consumption. Regardless of the actual likely intent of the low value plants, Light has been charged with felony counts of drug possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to deliver, as well as drug possession, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and criminal trespass. He was released on a $25,000 bail.