UPDATE: Bethel Park Man Sues Peters Township, Police Officer

The suit alleges misconduct by Peters Township police Officer Matthew Collins.

This story was updated at 4:29 p.m. Thursday.

A Bethel Park man this week has filed federal suit against and one of its police officers, alleging police misconduct.

According to federal court records, Steven Stiegel, who filed the suit Tuesday, said he was fox hunting with a friend, Nolan Majcher, on Jan. 30 on a piece of private property in North Strabane.

“The road where they parked is a dead end, several hundred yards away from any houses. Nolan Majcher was situated about 30 yards from his truck, scanning the woods, wearing hunting camouflage with his gun clearly visible,” court documents show.

Then, at about 11 p.m., they observed headlights coming down the road.

“The car was driven by Peters Township police Officer Matthew Russell Collins. Officer Collins did not identify himself as a police officer, but Nolan Majcher suspected that he might be associated with law enforcement because of his use of a spotlight.”

Majcher walked toward the car, his arms reportedly extended, “with his gun held in a vertical non-threatening position.”

That’s when a confrontation between the two men occurred, according to the records.

“Officer Collins then aggressively yelled, ‘Drop the weapon!’ and still did not identify himself as a police officer,” court records show.

The suit said Majcher complied with the officer’s request immediately, when the Collins again spoke up.

“’What the (expletive deleted) are you doing?’” court documents indicate the officer said.

That’s when—weaponless—Majcher reportedly held “both hands at shoulder height in order to signal his prone position.“

The man reportedly walked toward the car and office Collins so he “would no longer have to shout.”

That’s when court records show Collins again responded.

“Officer Collins yelled, again very aggressively, ‘Stay where you are or I’ll shoot you!’” the suit alleges.

That’s when Majcher explained that he and Stiegel were hunting, and that his friend was in the woods to the right of the officer.

“Officer Collins responded belligerently and inappropriately” as Majcher made his way to the officer’s vehicle, according to court records—with Collins training his gun on the man.

Stiegel walked out of the woods a little later, dropping his rifle.

But according to the suit, Collins “aggressively questioned and retained them, acted arrogantly and obnoxiously, and then left without issuing any sort of citation—because no laws were broken,” the suit indicates.

While the suit maintains that Steigel and Majcher were acting in accordance to the law, it claims Collins “was outside of the rubrics of the law. He illegally wielded a weapon against citizens and only their superior common sense prevented a catastrophe.”

The suit also alleges that Collins was in North Strabane at the time, which was out of his jurisdiction.

Stiegel said the incident caused him “physical manifestations and injury—and he had made a complaint to the .

In a letter dated Feb. 29, Peters police Chief Harry Fruecht wrote to Stiegel: 

"The investigation established that the conduct of the concerned employee was not contrary to department policy but disclosed training issues that will be addressed department wide. 

"Please be assured that we desire to provide the best possible police service and are appreciative when given the opportunity to clarify such matters. 

"Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. If you desire further information in regard to the investigation or disposition, please contact my office."

Steven Stiegel April 25, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I think Jim is referring to the Law my attorney referenced above.
Sandy K April 26, 2012 at 01:34 AM
The link you mention brings up some important points. The officer's side will help to clarify these very ones: (1) whether the police were aware of specific and articulable facts giving rise to reasonable suspicion; and (2) whether the degree of intrusion was reasonably related to the known facts. In other [*971] words, the issue is whether the police conduct -- given their suspicions and the surrounding circumstances -- was reasonable. (In this case mentioned on link)The court reasoned that drawing weapons and ordering the suspect to lie on the ground were actions reasonably necessary for officer safety based on the perceived threat.( Such is possibly the instance here. The officer felt the need to have his gun drawn and ready, being in a possible dangerous situation with two or maybe more, men carrying rifles.) In this case, he didn't cuff the men or frisk them. He simply questioned them, and let them go. It was dark, so the officer needed to assess the situation, but needed to be sure he was safe and simply took precautions. One could also wonder, if the officer were to tell his side of it. Did both men, after disarming, walk toward him in a threatening manner as if they had planned to jump him/cause harm? In which he ordered," stop where you are or I'll shoot." We will only know for sure when both sides are heard.
Johnny W July 09, 2012 at 08:19 AM
WWWAAAAHHHHHH, WWWAAAHHHHHHHHHH, The police officer shined a bright light in my eyes!!! The police officer swore at me!!!! The police officer scared me!!! WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
Gary A January 17, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I think anyone in the community who has had an interaction with officer collins would attest to the facts; he's disrespectful, he's unprofessional, he's a disgrace to our community.
FUNK DOC March 10, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Gary A I couldn't agree more!!


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