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N.Y. man upset over police stop

June 10, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A New York man said he and a friend feared for their safety last month when police in Pennsylvania stopped their car and held them at gunpoint after an unfounded 911 call in West Virginia.

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Dennis Ede, 46, of Endicott, N.Y., said he and Rick Miller, 51, of Union, N.Y., were surrounded by more than a dozen police officers with guns drawn in the May 27 incident on Interstate 81.

"They had two suspects before they had a crime," Ede said last week about the 1:30 p.m. traffic stop near Exit 6 in Chambersburg.

Ede, who says he was a police officer in Endicott, said the trouble started in West Virginia with a false report of a truck driver being held at gunpoint at 76 Truck Stop near Martinsburg, W.Va.

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"That's the call that we got. ... It was a third-party call," said Sgt. Deke Walker, the detachment commander for the interstate patrol in Martinsburg.

Ede said he and Miller stopped at the truck stop for gas, but there was no confrontation.

Walker said he had a description of a white car with two white males and New York tags. He drove north to try and stop the vehicle but never saw it.

A Pennsylvania State Police press release about the incident said the agency was notified by law enforcement officials in Maryland that an officer was following a vehicle believed to have been involved in an armed robbery.

Cpl. George Cronin of the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Chambersburg said last week he was in charge at the scene, but he would not comment on the incident because of possible civil litigation.

Ede said a number of police cruisers converged on them, and when Miller pulled over, "That's when all hell broke loose."

"We could see gun barrels from over car doors, over hoods," Ede said.

Police from all three states were at the scene, he said, adding that he thought police overreacted once the scene was secured.

"I am all for police protecting themselves," Ede said.

Ede said Miller's head was slammed against the trunk of a cruiser and he suffered a cut to his knee.

Ede's wrist was injured when he was handcuffed, he claims.

"We were told we were under arrest for armed robbery," but they weren't read their Miranda rights, Ede alleged.

The two were detained for about an hour before being released, he said.

Ede said he and Miller had no weapons, but police searched the trunk of the car, tossing their belongings onto the roadside.

"They were in such a frenzy that nobody stopped to get written permission to get in that trunk," he said Thursday.

"That's an illegal search from the word go."

He also criticized police for not first confirming whether the original report was valid. He said he's been unable to learn from West Virginia State Police who made the call.

Ede said his attorney has contacted the state attorney general offices in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to preserve all documents and communications related to the stop.

Walker said he wasn't at the scene of the felony stop, but he thinks the officers acted appropriately.

"With the information we had, we did exactly what we were supposed to do," he said.

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