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$45,000 Settlement for Pennsylvania Prisoner Subjected to Excessive Force

by David M. Reutter

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County Prison (LCP) has paid $45,000 to settle a civil rights action alleging a guard used excessive force on a prisoner.

Multiple guards approached prisoner Marquice Gatewood on December 9, 2017, and told him that he would be taken to “medical” and then to “the hole,” which was the disciplinary cell block. Gatewood submitted to handcuffing behind his back and was escorted to the elevator by six guards.

Without provocation, one of them pushed Gatewood into the elevator, smashing his face into the back wall. Guard Andrew Bruce Gebhardt then “viciously attacked” Gatewood by punching him in the back of the head. Gatewood did not resist nor was he otherwise disorderly, he alleged in his complaint.

As a result of the beating, he suffered head injuries, headaches, depression and anxiety. At the time the complaint was filed, Gatewood remained at LCP and feared other guards would retaliate against him. Gebhardt was subsequently charged with simple assault and sentenced to two years of accelerated rehabilitation disposition and 35 hours of community control.

On September 10, 2019, the county agreed to the $45,000 settlement.

“The way this case was resolved reflects the recognition that former employee Gebhardt’s exposure to liability far exceeded that of the other county defendants, who did nothing wrong,” said Chris Hauser, solicitor for Lancaster County, in an email to a local newspaper.

Gatewood was represented by attorney Jeffrey Paul. The county’s insurance provider will pay the settlement. See: Gatewood v. Lancaster County, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Penn.), Case No. 5:18-cv-01059-HSP. 


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Related legal case

Gatewood v. Lancaster County