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Penn State Student Sues State College Borough and Two Police Officers For Riot Arrest

A Penn State student is suing the State College Borough, claiming two State College police officers violated his rights.

The incident stems from the 2011 downtown State College riot following the dismissal of former head football coach Joe Paterno.

Matthew Maser, of Newtown Square, claims in documents filed in the U.S. Middle District Court that State College Police officers Martin Hanes and Michael Pieniazek violated his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Maser claims in the documents he was walking back from playing laser tag with his Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers on East College Avenue on the night of Nov. 11, 2011. He and his friends watched the crowd for a bit, until police ordered everyone to disperse, according to court documents.

Maser left the scene only to be thrown against a mailbox by Hanes and Pieniazek, according to court documents. Maser claims the officers then took his wallet out of his pocket and took his student identification card and told him he would be charged with a felony and thrown out of school.

After the incident, Maser was charged with failure to disperse and disorderly conduct. Police said in the affidavit of probable cause Maser was standing in the planters of Happy Valley Freeze, a place Maser claims he never was, according to court documents.

The charges were eventually dropped from Maser’s record in September 2012.

Maser is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from the borough.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine gave no comment on the issue because he has not been served with a lawsuit yet.

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