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Lawsuits & Litigation

York City Agrees to Settle Excessive Force Suit After Police Officer Shot Woman Three Times

— November 6, 2019

York City recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with Erika Eberhardinger over a 2014 police shooting incident.

A woman who was shot three times while sitting in the front passenger seat of a car recently agreed to a lawsuit settlement with the City of York and others. According to her suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg in 2016, Erika Eberhardinger was shot by a York City police officer while riding in a car involved in a chase. Her lawsuit alleged excessive force by the officer who shot her. When commenting on the recent settlement, her lawyer, Joshua Goldberg, said the “matter has now been settled with the help of Chief Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab.” He added that “the parties will endeavor to finalize said settlement as soon as possible.”

York City welcome sign
York City welcome sign; image courtesy of Adavidb via Wikimedia Commons,

What happened, though? Why did a police officer shoot Eberhardinger and why was the car she was traveling in flee from the police? For starters, the incident occurred back on December 19, 2014, around 1:45 a.m. According to the suit, Eberhardinger had just left “Banana Max Bar & Grill on Eastern Boulevard near South Northern Way in Springettsbury Township and got in the front passenger seat of her car.” Matthew Foster was driving the vehicle. While driving through York, he went through a stop sign and fled from the police when they attempted to pull him over for the traffic violation.

At one point during the chase, Foster put the vehicle in reverse and crashed into a telephone pull before driving past York City Police Officer Benjamin Smith in another attempt to flee. In response, Smith “fired four times at the vehicle, striking Eberhardinger in the face, forearm, and hand,” according to the suit. The lawsuit further stated that Eberhardinger “suffered serious, severe, and potentially permanent and disabling injuries.”

Eventually, Foster was apprehended and pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including “fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and was sentenced to three to six years in prison.” Additionally, during court proceedings regarding the matter, Tom Kearney, the York City District Attorney ruled Smith was justified in taking the shots he did because “Foster drove directly at the police officer, who had to move laterally to avoid being struck by the car.

In addition to naming York City as a defendant in her lawsuit, Eberhardinger also named Smith, Foster, and State Farm insurance.

When asked about the settlement, Philip Given, chief of staff to York Mayor Michael Helfrich, said “while there’s an agreement in principle, nothing formal has been drafted.”


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