Family of man crushed by bulldozer during police manhunt files wrongful death suit

Jim Melwert
December 13, 2019 - 2:31 pm

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The family of a Reading man, who was run over and killed by a bulldozer while hiding from police, is suing Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

They claim the use of a bulldozer to search for him — because he was discovered tending to a few marijuana plants on state game lands — was excessive, reckless and dangerous.

The suit says more than a dozen law enforcement personnel were involved in the search for 51-year-old Gregory Longenecker, after he and a friend were spotted near about 10 marijuana plants on a remote section of state game lands in Berks County.

The friend was taken into custody, and he gave police Longenecker’s name. But rather than waiting for Longenecker to come out, or visiting him at his home later, the suit claims police called in a chopper and then violated protocol by using non-law enforcement to participate in the search.

Related: During manhunt for alleged trespassing marijuana growers, 1 crushed, killed by bulldozer

A recent filing includes statements by people involved in the search, including the pilot of the chopper and co-defendant Mark Weiss, the Game Commission worker who drove the bulldozer. 

Despite a secured perimeter and law enforcement’s awareness of Longenecker’s ID, State Police Cpl. Michael Taylor called in a helicopter, the suit alleges. The chopper located Longenecker, and troopers began cutting their way through the dense underbrush.

But, according to the suit, Taylor asked Weiss to drive him in the bulldozer. Weiss agreed, though the suit says he told the corporal they’d be driving blind.

The suit also says the pilot said he thought they could reach Longenecker on foot, and he couldn’t believe they were using the bulldozer to try to get to him.

There were several people wearing body cameras during the search, but the suit says those videos were never turned over, nor were the videos or the radio transmissions from the chopper.

It also says the bulldozer was returned to regular use, and Game Commission workers cleared all the brush off the site, despite being told to preserve it.

In previous filings, a lawyer for the defendants denies many of the suit’s allegations, adding Longenecker assumed all risk when he tried to elude police.