Commonwealth Journal

Local News

June 27, 2013

Claims of excessive force have haunted Molen

Somerset —

Allegations of excessive force against a Pulaski County sheriff’s deputy who was indicted in federal court this week have surfaced in recent years. 
Deputy Stephen Molen on Thursday was indicted in federal court on two counts of violating the civil rights of two victims in incidents from October 2009 and October 2011. One of the alleged victims, D.W., or local towing service owner Danny Whitaker, filed a civil lawsuit against Molen in 2010 stemming from the Oct. 2009 incident mentioned in the federal indictment. 
The lawsuit was filed in early October 2010 and was resolved and dismissed in federal court in February 2011. 
Whitaker’s suit claimed that Molen had beaten Whitaker after he attempted to carry out a traffic stop on the towing service business owner. Whitaker did not pull over, but instead proceeded to his own home, where he came to a stop in the driveway and exited his vehicle.
Whitaker through the lawsuit accused Molen of punching him and kicking him during the incident — allegedly in the view of Whitaker’s wife — among other actions. 
According to the complaint, Whitaker allegedly suffered from “hand, wrist, and shoulder pain; hand and wrist cuts, contusions, swelling and lacerations; rib and abdomen pain, contusions and swelling; facial pain, swelling, contusions, lacerations; and oral pain, swelling, contusion and lacerations.”
The lawsuit claimed Molen had carried out unlawful arrest, excessive force, assault and battery and cruel and unusual punishment on Whitaker. 
Molen had contended, through the arrest citation detailing the incident, that Whitaker had acted aggressively toward the deputy after he came to a stop — and after Molen allegedly “clocked” Whitaker driving around 70 mph in a 55 mph speed zone and witnessed him running a stop sign.   
Molen also claimed in the citation that he was forced to subdue Whitaker, and that the other man was fighting back.

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