Open Carry Group’s lawsuit names Dickson City cops


DICKSON CITY — Several people involved in an incident that sparked a gun rights debate last month filed a suit in federal court Wednesday looking not only for money, but for the court to force borough police to complete additional training.

The suit stems from a May 9 incident in which police asked for identification from a group of customers openly carrying firearms at Old Country Buffet. At least one person, Richard Banks, of Fairview Township, Luzerne County, refused to provide a driver’s license and was detained. Roger McCarren, of White Mills, Wayne County, had his gun taken because the state police gun sales database indicated it was purchased by his wife, Darcie.

Mr. Banks, Mr. McCarren, Larry Meyer, of Susquehanna, and Mr. Banks’ wife, Judy Banks, filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The suit names as defendants two officers, Karen Gallagher and Anthony Mariano, along with Police Chief William Stadnitski and Dickson City Borough.

The plaintiffs are asking for compensatory damages in excess of $100,000 and an “injunction requiring the individual defendants to receive such additional training as may be necessary to prevent a recurrence.” The compensatory figure doesn’t include punitive damages, which can be awarded as a punishment and a deterrent to the alleged rights violation being repeated.

The suit differs from the incident report on several points, including an allegation that police demanded “under threat of being arrested” that Mrs. Banks stop video-recording the incident. The police report indicated Officer Gallagher simply asked Mrs. Banks to turn off the recorder.

Mr. Banks and the plaintiffs’ attorney, Bob Magee, said part of the incident was recorded, but Mr. Magee declined to release the recording because of possible ethical repercussions.

Borough officials in general declined to comment on the allegations, but Chief Stadnitski said, “We expected it.” As of Thursday afternoon, Dickson City had not been served, said Borough Council President Barbara Mecca.

“I am dismayed this organization targeted Dickson City to advance their cause,” she said, a charge the group denies. “And I feel our officers acted reasonably under the direction of the district attorney’s office.”

While the police report indicates Assistant District Attorney Corey Kolcharno helped police with the incident, the district attorney’s office is not named as a defendant. Efforts to reach Mr. Kolcharno were unsuccessful Thursday.

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