Malicious Prosecution

Officer Brian Dixon charged Anthony Werman with attempted murder of a police officer when Dixon was responding to a domestic disturbance claiming that Werman attacked Dixon with a six inch Alaskan Ulu knife raised above his head while Dixon was attempting to enter the apartment to investigate. Sargent Gregory Neeper signed an affidavit swearing to the fact of the charges. Anthony Werman was incarcerated in the Clearfield County Jail for one month before being released on supervised bail. He remained on supervised bail for a little over one year while the attempted murder charges were still pending against him until the Clearfield County District Attorney stated that the interests of justice required that all of the charges filed against Werman be withdrawn. Although the District Attorney’s Office and State Police did file criminal charges arising from the incident against Officer Dixon and Sargent Neeper, the charges were thrown out after a preliminary hearing before a District Justice with no real justification to do so. Searching for justice Werman hired Schemery Zicolello and Mike Zicolello filed an Eleven Count Complaint in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania asserting civil rights violations and other claims arising from the incident. During discovery in the case, the attorneys at Schemery Zicolello identified two officers, who were present at the scene, and who physically subdued Werman, who was intoxicated in his own apartment, and both indicated that neither ever saw a knife in the possession of Werman. Officer Dixon admitted that he did not yell “knife” at any point during the incident and did not caution the other officers that Werman had possession of a knife while they were attempting to place handcuffs on Werman. Dixon acknowledged that at no point at the scene did he ever caution any officer of even the possibility that Werman had possessed a knife. Before trial, the lawsuit was settled for $319,000. While, as part of the settlement, Officer Dixon and Sargent Neeper acknowledged no wrongdoing with respect to the incident, settlements of this amount are rare and are the real indication of whether the officers falsely charged Anthony Werman. It remains a curiosity, based on the record in the civil rights case, as to how the officers avoided criminal prosecution, or even any type of administrative discipline with respect to the incident, and it is proof of the harsh reality the oftentimes a Civil Rights claim is the sole method for obtaining justice when police officers violate your rights.