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Penn State Settles Lawsuit With Man Injured During Police Response To 2018 Tailgate

Penn State will pay $25,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a New York man who says he sustained long-lasting injuries during the police response to a chaotic Beaver Stadium tailgate party that drew national headlines in 2018, according to a document filed in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas earlier this month.

William Deegan, who was 59 and the father of a Penn State senior at the time of the incident, was struck in the head by a Pennsylvania State Police horse and then squeezed against a car on September 29, 2018, in Lot 23 prior to the Penn State football game against Ohio State, attorney Christopher Durso wrote.

University and state police deployed mounted units and a low-flying helicopter to break up what they said was an ‘unruly’ crowd at “a large-scale party that was getting out of hand.” The incident gained notoriety when video showed the helicopter send tents, grills, and other debris flying through the air.

Deegan says he suffered six broken ribs and later developed headaches and cognitive problems that required treatment by a neurologist and cognitive therapy.

The state police trooper controlling the horse said he was using the animal to push people away from the scene as an unidentified individual was pursued and placed under arrest.

Video from the state police helicopter “clearly reveals that [Deegan] did nothing to warrant the contact,” Durso wrote.

The original complaint, filed in June 2020, alleged mounted police were used “in a situation where it was unsafe and unnecessary to do so.”

Claims against the Pennsylvania State Police are still pending and a trial is scheduled for May 19-20, 2022.

Police previously said the organized tailgate — which charged $10 for entry and access to alcohol, food, and cigarettes — grew to about 600 people. Two horses were assaulted and one state trooper was injured, police said at the time.

Four people were charged with selling alcohol to minors and one person was charged with taunting a police animal for allegedly striking a horse.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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