Officers in small Pennsylvania town kicked, punched and strangled arrestees, indictment alleges

Three small-town Pennsylvania police officers ‘collectively kicked, punched, choked and otherwise used excessive force’ in 22 arrests over a three-year period, according to an unsealed federal indictment Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Kyle Schauer, 34, a Mount Carmel Borough Police patrol officer, and two other former officers, former Lt. David Donkochik, 51, and Jonathan McHugh, 35, with violated civil rights in attacks between 2018 and 2021 that caused injuries. They were arraigned on Thursday.

McHugh’s attorney said Friday he was new to the case and unable to comment. The court-appointed attorney for Donkochik said he was only on the case for his initial appearance. A message was left at the office of the attorney listed as representing Schauer. A phone message seeking comment was also left for current Mount Carmel Chief Chris Buhay.

The indictment accuses the three men of trying to hide their alleged crimes by avoiding cameras and lying about the victims.

The grand jurors wrote that the three “falsely reported that those arrested acted in a manner that required violence, then falsely charged those arrested with criminal offenses” including aggravated assault and resisting the arrest.

Schauer is accused of pushing a man down a flight of stairs five years ago, injuring him. Donkochik was charged with using pepper spray on a man as well as punching, kicking and dragging him. McHugh, according to the indictment, punched a man in the face and “threw him against the walls,” and banged a woman’s head against a wall.

Mount Carmel is a town of about 6,000 people located 177 kilometers northwest of Philadelphia in what was once a thriving mining region.

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