Man acquitted of disarming cop

BY STACI WILSON

A man accused of getting a Taser away from a Pennsylvania state trooper during a scuffle nearly two years ago was found not guilty of the charge by a Susquehanna County jury Friday of two felony counts lodged against him.

After deliberating for two hours, the jury split its decision and found Edwin Bell, 46, of Kirkwood, N.Y., guilty of misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

In addition to being acquitted of disarming a law enforcement officer, he was also found not guilty of aggravated assault.

Police were called to respond to a domestic dispute at the Colonial Brick Motel in Great Bend on June 22, 2009, involving Bell and his wife. The couple, according to court testimony, is now estranged.

During the one day trial, jurors heard testimony from two troopers who responded to the scene, the motel desk clerk, four motel guests and Bell’s wife, Angela.

On the stand, the clerk and motel guests offered differing accounts of whether Trooper Joseph Bushta fired the Taser at Bell after the man approached the police cruiser. All of the witnesses, however, reported that the trooper remained calm through the incident.

Witnesses reported Bell acted in a belligerent manner toward the officer, cursing and physically blocking Bushta from exiting his vehicle.

Bushta ended up wrestling Bell to the ground but was not able to handcuff him until another trooper arrived on the scene to assist. During the incident, police used pepper spray on Bell in an effort to subdue him and also, according to state police testimony, Tasered Bell two or three times.

During the confrontation, Tpr. Bushta’s Taser discharged at some point and was thrown across the motel parking lot. Witness Brian Gary retrieved the taser for the trooper.

On the stand, Bell disputed the trooper’s account and said he was Tasered about 25 times.

Bell is scheduled to be sentenced on the misdemeanor counts on July 21. He could serve up to a maximum of three years in prison.