A YouTube video surfaced online on September 9 of what appeared to be a phone conversation between the uploader and a Harrisburg police officer who he claims refused to identify himself.
While speaking with the video uploader, Ethan Abbotts, Photography is Not a Crime learned the reason behind the call.
On September 6, Abbotts, along with his service dog, was partaking in a local program called STEP Group. The group helps build peoples skill training and employment program.
While painting an apartment, Abbotts was approached by Harrisburg animal control officer William Stadstorm. Stadstorm advised that it was too hot outside for Abbotts dog to be in his vehicle, according to Abbotts. The vehicle was parked in the shade with the back window missing as his vehicle was recently broken into around a month ago.
Abbotts advised PINAC News, that the officer used a temperature device that read 76 degrees.
According to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5536:
(1) Tethering an unattended dog out of doors for less than nine hours within a 24-hour period when all of the following conditions are present shall create a rebuttable presumption that a dog has not been the subject of neglect within the meaning of section 5532 (relating to neglect of animal): (iv) The dog has not been tethered for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the officer realized the temperature was within the law, the officer started asking questions regarding his disability and why he had a service dog, according to Abbotts.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits people from asking about a person’s disability. They are also not allowed to require any type of identification or certification for service animals or from their handler.
Abbotts told told PINAC News that he advised Stadstorm that him asking such questions were against federal law and that the officer being irate was agitating his C-PTSD.
“a lot of people say its a service dog and its not”.
Stadstorm told Abbotts, “a lot of people say its a service dog and its not,” according to Abbotts, which he believes goes against his constitutional right to the presumption of innocence.
At the advice of others in the group, Abbotts left and called the police department asking to speak to a supervisor.
The supervisor, who Abbotts claims refused to identify himself, mocked him continuously and talked down to him, Abbotts told us. Part of the phone conversation was video recorded. PINAC News has provided the video below.
Once the phone call was being recorded Abbotts advised the officer that he was doing so.
Abbotts told PINAC News that the officer attempted to intimidate him for recording the call.
Abbotts did not have to advise the officer that he was recording as the United States Supreme Court has ruled that police officers in their official actions have no right to privacy and that it is legal to record police at any time.
In an email sent to Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Abbots claims that both officers violated United States Code Title 42 Sec 1983.
“Their actions clearly show that they “willfully and intentionally, (thereby negating any form of governmental immunity) to deprive another of their constitutional or civil rights under the color of law”.”
Abbotts also claimed that he reached out once more to the department and advised his call was being transferred to their law department, in the email to the mayor.
The second video shows Abbotts requesting to speak to an ADA compliance officer to which he was advised that the department does not have one. The communication officer then transferred the call to their law department. Abbotts asked the officer to identify themselves over two dozen times, to which the officer completely ignored his requests.
When the officer asked Abbotts to provide his phone number Abbotts offered his email stating that under the ADA he is requesting accommodations.
The law department officer continued to be unhelpful and disconnected the call after Abbotts stated that the video will be on YouTube.
PINAC News has provided the video below of the conversation that transpired with the law department officer.
Abbotts states that he has yet to be able to continue partaking in the group as he fears that he will be further harassed or arrested.
Abbotts stated that the mayor has yet to respond to his email