SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Several state troopers are expected to defend their actions in federal court this week nearly four years after a deadly ambush at the state police barracks in Blooming Grove.
Before Eric Frein was even identified as the shooting suspect, a Lackawanna County man says investigators wrongfully arrested him and held him against his will.
A jury was selected Monday, opening statements were heard and the first witnesses were called in a civil trial brought by Jeffrey Hudak of Clarks Summit.
Within hours of the deadly ambush in 2014, Hudak says he was handcuffed, brought to a state police barracks and questioned for hours without an attorney.
Its now been more than a year since Eric Frein was convicted and sentenced to death for shooting two state troopers, killing one of them, outside the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Blooming Grove.
Frein was only identified as a suspect after his abandoned Jeep was found in the woods but immediately after the ambush attorneys for Jeffrey Hudak say their client became a suspect.
Within hours of the shooting, Hudak claims heavily armed officers surrounded his mother’s home in Scranton, handcuffed him, drove him to the barracks in Dunmore and questioned him for hours while ignoring or denying his requests for an attorney, to use the bathroom, make a phone call or even get a drink of water.
Talking about state police, Hudak’s attorney Danielle Mulcahey told jurors Monday, “they stand guard outside the door to make sure Jeff Hudak doesn’t get up and leave.”
Hudak has filed a federal civil lawsuit against six state troopers.
He claims his fourth amendment rights were violated because he was wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned.
An attorney for the troopers say that is anything but the case.
She claims Hudak was treated with respect every step of the way and agreed to cooperate and answer questions and is now embellishing the story to make it seem like a “Hollywood movie.”
Jessica Davis, Senior Deputy Attorney General, told jurors, “they wanted to be sure they found the right person,” adding later, “they did their jobs and they did their jobs well.”
State police did release a mugshot of Jeffrey Hudak to the media but he was never charged with a crime and released several hours after initially being handcuffed.
Hudak’s attorney says the damage done has been significant.
“He doesn’t trust the police. He’s afraid of them. He’s afraid of the people who are supposed to protect him,” Mulcahey said.
State troopers reportedly wanted to talk to Hudak because his ex-wife had started dating Trooper Alex Douglas who was one of the two troopers shot at the Blooming Grove barracks.
Because this is a civil trail, a total of eight jurors will hear testimony and decide if Hudak’s rights were violated.
Testimony is expected to last for most of the week at the federal courthouse in Scranton.