Troop N member accused of excessive force

Trooper Suspended after Arrest

July 23, 2008 03:55 PM

By Sarah Buynovsky /

A state police corporal finds himself on the other side of the law, charged with assault and intimidating of a witness.

According to an internal police investigation, Corporal Michael Hartzel of the Hazleton barracks used excessive force against a man earlier this year, then told a witness to say nothing about it.

Hartzel was arrested and is suspended without pay. He has been a member of the force since 1988.

According to the internal state police investigation, Corporal Hartzel responded with six other troopers to a mobile home park in Hazle Township earlier this year.

They were there because a man was trying to force his way into a mobile home. Several people were detained.

During that investigation, a trooper said Hartzel “intentionally stomped” on a man’s head while he was lying on the ground. That man suffered a broken nose.

State police said charging one of their own is difficult.

“Very difficult and a better phase, perhaps a better phrase, is disappointing for the Pennsylvania State Police as an organization and in particular Troop N Hazleton,” said Captain James Murtin of Pennsylvania State Police.

Then, the investigation found that Hartzel told a fellow trooper to tell investigators “that he did not see anything.”

Newswatch 16 went to the corporal’s home in Larksville for comment. No one answered the door.

“If I had one thing to say as a saving grace is that we police our own and we do the right thing as far as the truth be told,” Captain Murtin added.

The name Corporal Michael Hartzel may sound familiar. In 2005 he was attacked by a man with a chainsaw in Forty Fort.

Fellow law enforcement officers shot and killed the man. An investigation found those officers acted appropriately in that case.

Hartzel is due back in court at the end of this month. In the meantime, he is out on bail.

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