The state has reached a settlement with the estate of Andy Dzwonchyk over the November 2021 shooting of Dzwonchyk by a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
Paul Messing, a partner in civil rights law firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, said that the Dzwonchyk estate will receive $1.75 million.
As first reported by the New York Times in January, Dzwonchyk was the fourth Pennsylvanian to be fatally shot by Trooper Jay Splain. The first fatal shooting occurred in Lehigh County in 2007; the second in Northampton County in 2017. The third occurred in Lebanon County in March 2020, when Splain shot Charity Thome in Jackson Township following a car chase through the county.
Messing said that no amount of money is going to bring Dzwonchyk back, but his children lost both their father and their principal means of support, and the settlement amount ensures they will be taken care of.
Messing said he was very pleased that the settlement was able to be reached quickly, on Thursday, Sept. 1, just three days after Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf cleared Splain of any criminal wrongdoing.
“We have been monitoring the situation for many months and we have been in discussion with the state for some time to amicably resolve this issue to get the children the support they need,” said Messing.
Messing said that Hess Graf’s report was worded more towards character assassination than proving the shooting was justified.
The DA’s report says that members of Dzwonchyk’s family refused to give statements to both the Pennsylvania State Police and the Lebanon County Detectives Bureau.
Messing said that nobody has attempted to interview members of Dzwonchyk’s family since the day after the shooting.
“As far as we can tell, there does not appear to have been a meaningful and comprehensive investigation,” said Messing.
As previously reported by LebTown, the DA’s report leaves open several core questions, such as how Splain could safely discharge a Taser or firearm into Dzwonchyk more than half a dozen times while he was struggling with another officer partially in the vehicle.
“I hope the state police take action to hold the trooper accountable,” said Messing.
Email inquiries to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General did not receive an immediate response Friday afternoon. An email to Hess Graf also did not receive an immediate response Friday afternoon.
In August 2021, Philadelphia law firm Kline and Specter filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Thome estate against Splain. Kline and Specter attorney Benjamin Present said that there have been no settlement discussions related to the Thome case.
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