Man Arrested and Interrogated in State Police Ambush Files Lawsuit

Jeffrey Hudak says he was wrongfully arrested at gunpoint in September of 2014 and then denied access to an attorney. He's seeking recompense for his mistreatment.

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Jeffrey Hudak of Clarks Summit, Pa., filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against several Pennsylvania state troopers whom he claims unlawfully arrested him back in September of 2014, using excessive force, in the immediate manhunt following the ambush shootings of two state police troopers in Blooming Grove. Hudak also says he was harshly interrogated and denied an attorney.

While Hudak was identified in the press as a person of interest in the case, he claims that during his interview with the defendants, it was clear that he was being accused of shootings which killed a state trooper and seriously injured another.

Eric Frein, the man police ultimately identified as the suspected assailant, was finally taken into custody nearly two months after the attack, in late October.

The lawsuit (below) names state troopers Benjamin Clark and Kyle Hnat as defendants, as well as two unidentified male troopers and two unidentified female troopers involved in Hudak’s arrest. Court papers charge that Clark and Hnat put Hudak through “hours of intense questioning and unsubstantiated accusations … and his requests for an attorney, to use the restroom and/or to make a phone call were ignored and/or denied.”

Once Hudak was allowed to make a phone call, which he placed to his sister, he says he learned that she had arranged for attorney Bernard J. Brown to represent him. However, upon his arrival at the barracks, Hudak says Brown’s attempts to see his client were rebuffed. Hudak was held for about seven to eight hours by police, his current lawyer George A. Reihner told Philly Mag.

Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II was slain in the tragic shooting, and State Trooper Alex Douglass was critically injured. Hudak says he was arrested without a warrant in the early morning hours of September 13th, 2014, at his mother’s residence, during which two officers “confronted and accosted [Hudak] at gunpoint with the use of what appeared to be a semi-automatic assault rifle,” according to court papers.

Hudak claims his suspected involvement in the deadly shooting and his arrest stemmed from Trooper Douglass’ alleged relationship with Hudak’s estranged wife, from whom he had been separated for more than a year.

Reihner is optimistic about the outcome of his client’s case “based on the fact that [police] had no reason to detain him [Hudak],” he said.

Hudak is also claiming damage to his name and reputation, as his implication in the crime was immediately publicized at the time of his arrest. He and his family received inquiries into the situation and his supposed involvement as a result of the publicity.

He cites the fact that a Google search still brings up the story of his arrest. Additionally, the lawsuit points out that Hudak’s “name and photograph quickly appeared on social media, in multiple newspaper articles and/or televised news broadcasts for the whole world to see.”

Court papers say that several media outlets were made aware of Hudak’s arrival at the Dunmore Barracks after his arrest, “as various news media outlets were parked outside the barracks.”

Hudak is seeking unspecified “compensatory and punitive damages.”

Pennsylvania State Police does not comment on pending litigation.

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