Crime

Hearing reveals evidence in State College Taser case

Police officers will carry the tasers on their belts. The State College police department and the Penn State University police announced Feb. 24, 2015 that effective immediately both departments will be using tasers.
Police officers will carry the tasers on their belts. The State College police department and the Penn State University police announced Feb. 24, 2015 that effective immediately both departments will be using tasers. CDT photo

All charges filed against a Penn State student immobilized with a stun gun by State College police outside the East College Avenue McDonald’s late last month were bound over to the Centre County Court of Common Pleas at her preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Ciarah Bishop, 22, of Philadelphia, faces aggravated assault, resisting arrest and other charges after an incident in the early morning hours of Feb. 28. Police responded to the restaurant shortly after about 50 to 75 people were escorted out by security for fighting and being disruptive. Bishop began banging on the locked doors of the restaurant and, despite being asked to leave repeatedly followed by threats of arrest from officers at the scene, refused to leave without her food, police said.

Officer Nicholas Raia, the officer who deployed the Taser, testified Wednesday that Bishop tried to punch another officer when he tried to arrest her. Pepper spray was used on Bishop, and she swung at the officer two more times, he said. Raia deployed the Taser when Bishop was still resistant and kicked at two officers trying to take her into custody, he said.

Bishop is also charged with institutional vandalism after police said she urinated on the floor of a holding cell at the police station. The cell is equipped with a toilet, Raia said.

Bishop herself was not present at the hearing. Patrick Klena, her public defender, requested that District Judge Steven Lachman grant a continuance until next week. Bishop, a senior, is home for spring break, Klena said. He told the court that he received an email from her Wednesday morning stating that transportation back to Centre County for the hearing had fallen through.

Assistant District Attorney Nathan Boob asked the judge to proceed in her absence, because the hearing had already been continued once, on March 4, for Bishop to hire private counsel. Witnesses for the commonwealth were present for both hearings and Bishop did not obtain private representation.

Klena also asked Lachman to dismiss the aggravated assault and institutional vandalism charge. None of the officers were hurt, and the ones who tried to apprehend Bishop were larger than her, he argued, and the cell wasn’t permanently damaged

Boob disagreed, and said intent, not whether the officers were hurt, was what mattered.

“There’s no reason to take your hand, make it into a fist and swing it at a person you know to be a police officer,” Boob said.

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