By Matt Petrillo
READING, Pa. (CBS) — An update in the bulldozer death of a Berks County man suspected of growing marijuana. It happened as state police investigated his alleged activities.
Now, the man’s estate is expected to receive nearly half a million dollars in a tentative settlement.
“Our lives will never be the same again,” said Mike Carpenter, the victim’s uncle.
The family of Gregory Longenecker, of Reading, says he was taken from them too soon in a botched police search that turned deadly.
“They knew he wasn’t armed, he wasn’t dangerous, he wasn’t posing a threat to anyone,” Carpenter said.
According to Longenecker’s family attorney, the 51-year-old cook was suspected of growing 10 marijuana plants on state game lands in Penn Township near Reading back in July 2018.
A game commission worker was operating a bulldozer at the time called police as Longenecker fled into the thick underbrush.
“There wasn’t any cool heads operating that morning, not at all. It was all about the pursuit,” Carpenter said.
A state police helicopter arrived, and the pilot directed the game commission worker and a state police corporal, who were both aboard the bulldozer, as they searched for Longenecker. But at one point, the nine-ton bulldozer was stopped. Longenecker was found dead.
“The state police are responsible for running him over,” attorney Jordan Strokovsky said.
Strokovsky filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2019 that reads, in part: “Virtually all of Mr. Longenecker’s bones and organs were crushed, broken, and/or lacerated from his pelvis to his collar bone.”
“The state police send in 15 armed law enforcement, a helicopter and the 9-ton bulldozer to get Greg at all costs,” Strokovsky said.
“This was a nonviolent crime. Yet it ended in a violent way,” Carpenter said.
The state of Pennsylvania is expected to pay the estate of Gregory Longenecker $475,000 in a settlement that was tentatively approved by a federal judge in Reading Thursday.