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Video shows jailhouse scuffle in Pa. trial

March 12, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Five Franklin County Prison corrections officers testified they were attacked last summer by an inmate who refused to comply with their orders, and a video of the incident was shown in Franklin County Court Tuesday.

Former Maryland correctional officer David Shawn Ardinger, of 17611 Stone Valley Drive, Hagerstown, faces four counts of aggravated assault in the June 24 incident. His jury trial is scheduled to continue today in Franklin County Court before Judge Douglas Herman.

Former corrections officer Karl Crider testified that in the early morning hours of June 24, Ardinger had blocked the officers' only view of the cell by covering his door with a mattress.

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Crider said that violated rules, but Ardinger, 37, refused to remove the mattress, and when the officer attempted to pull the mattress out of the cell by sliding it under the door, Ardinger "stomped" on it, Crider testified.

That forced Crider and four other corrections officers to enter the cell and physically remove the three mattresses inside, he testified.

Crider said he and another officer held Ardinger in a corner of the cell until the mattresses had been taken out, and then Ardinger kneed or kicked him in the groin.

The other corrections officers suffered injuries, including blows to the head, said Assistant Franklin County District Attorney Angela Krom, who is prosecuting the case.

Corrections officer Thomas Shreiner said Ardinger hit him in the side of the head with a closed fist.

"I hit him back. I ended the situation," Shreiner said. "Officers were getting hurt. I was getting hurt. I had to protect myself and the officers."

The Commonwealth showed the jury a video of the incident taken by another officer. The video showed Crider asking Ardinger to remove the mattress, while Ardinger repeatedly asked to see a nurse.

The video showed Ardinger did not comply and grabbed hold of the door's bars to keep the officers from entering. The officer had to pry his fingers open and then entered the cell, forcing Ardinger to the back while others removed the three green mattress.

The video documents some of the scuffle, and one officer could be heard shouting "Out, out, out," after Shreiner punched Ardinger and he fell to the floor.

The entire incident lasted just a couple of minutes.

Defense attorney George Matangos, of Lemoyne, Pa., said Ardinger knew from his experience as a correctional officer that he would be able to get the attention of a supervisor and the nurse that he was seeking.

Matangos said Ardinger suffered injuries to his wrist when he was an Army Ranger more than a decade ago and was still taking medication for it.

He said in opening statements the corrections officers in the Franklin County Prison disliked Ardinger because he was reporting to the warden when they were not following regulations.

"They couldn't take that," he said.

He said Ardinger, who was wearing a suit and tie in court Tuesday and taking notes, was merely "defending himself against the inappropriate actions by the officers."

Ardinger has been in the Franklin County Prison on $100,000 bail since February 2002 when he was jailed on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault and indecent assault, court records show.

His trial on those charges has been indefinitely postponed while the Franklin County District Attorney's Office awaits an evidentiary ruling from the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

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