Man Detained In Frein Manhunt Says Police Destroyed Evidence

July 24, 2018

A man suing state police for detaining him during the search for convicted cop killer Eric Matthew Frein alleges authorities intentionally failed to preserve a video and written notes that would support his claims in the lawsuit. Jeffrey Hudak of Clarks Summit contends troopers knew the video taken of him while being transported to the Dunmore barracks for questioning and notes troopers took of the interview would be important evidence to support his claim he was under arrest and did not go willingly. They failed to take action to save the notes or to prevent the video from being recorded over, Hudak’s attorney, George Reihner, of Scranton, says in court papers. Hudak filed suit in February 2016, alleging police illegally held him after wrongly suspecting he was involved in the Sept. 12, 2014 sniper attack outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II of Dunmore and wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass of Olyphant. Frein, 35, of Canadensis, was not identified as a suspect until Sept. 16, 2014. He was convicted in April 2017, in Pike County Court of first-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to death. The lawsuit says Hudak was initially considered a suspect because his estranged wife was dating Douglass at the time. He alleges police swarmed his home on Sept. 13, 2014, handcuffed him at gunpoint and transported him to the barracks, where he was intensely questioned for hours before being released. Police contend he went willingly after being asked to do so. U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani ruled earlier this year that police did not have probable cause to take Hudak into custody. The decision means Hudak does not have to prove that issue at trial. A dispute remains over whether or not his detention equates to an arrest — a key issue that will determine if he can recover damages for false arrest. The case is scheduled for trial on Aug. 27. Reihner recently filed a court motion asking Mariani to provide an “adverse inference” instruction to the jury, which means the panel would be advised that they could infer that the destroyed evidence would have been unfavorable to police. The motion is one of several Hudak and attorneys for the state police filed regarding evidence that will be permitted at trial. Hudak also is seeking to prevent police from mentioning certain information about his relationship with his estranged wife. Attorneys for state police, meanwhile, want to prevent the testimony of an attorney who was denied access to Hudak while he was being questioned and to prevent him from referencing another civil lawsuit filed by Donald DeLade, of Lake Ariel, who also alleges he was wrongly detained during the search for Frein. Mariani will take the motions under consideration and issue a ruling at a later date. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137 @tmbeseckerTT

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