Lanesboro officer cleared for duty after discharging firearm

The police officer involved in a law enforcement shooting incident on June 2 in Thompson Twp. has cleared to return to active duty.
In a statement issued June 9 by Susquehanna County District Attorney Robert Klein, the response and actions taken by Lanesboro Police Chief James Smith were “absolutely and unequivocally justified under the circumstances.”
On June 2, at about 9:30 p.m. in Lanesboro, Chief Smith attempted to pull over a 1995 Dodge Ram for traffic violations. The driver of the vehicle failed to pull over and accelerated away at a high rate of speed, leading the officer on a pursuit reaching speeds over 80 mph.
The driver, identified as Scott Rivenburg, 18, of Susquehanna, drove south on SR 171, then turned onto Little Ireland Road in Thompson Twp. He then attempted to turn the vehicle onto a railroad bed, but missed and entered a private driveway.
As Rivenburg attempted to turn his vehicle around, Smith exited his patrol vehicle and issued verbal commands for him to stop the vehicle, according to the release issued by the district attorney.
The vehicle reversed, forcing Smith to take evasive action to avoid being struck, then pulled forward. Smith repeatedly commanded the driver to stop. But the driver reversed again – and again Smith was forced to avoid being struck.
According to the statement, Smith “fearing for his safety,” fired one round from his service weapon into the rear passenger side tire in an attempt to disable the vehicle.
The Dodge Ram continued a short distance into a wooded area where it stopped and the occupants fled on foot.
All occupants were located and taken into custody following a brief search.
Pennsylvania State Police, Gibson, were notified of the incident and were requested and assumed jurisdiction of the investigation.
Klein said he was briefed on the matter shortly after it occurred and remained in contact with PSP investigators. He also reviewed the evidence and statements taken by police before determining that Smith’s actions were justified.
Criminal charges were filed against Rivenburg in New Milford District Court. He was charged by Tpr. Roger Riddell with misdemeanor counts of flight to avoid apprehension, trial or punishment; simple assault; recklessly endangering another person.
Rivenburg waived his preliminary hearing and all charges were held for trial in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas. He is free on unsecured bail. A formal arraignment is scheduled for July 18.
Klein said, “I am pleased to report, that although a serious incident, no one was injured or worse. Our community is again reminded of the risks that confront our law enforcement professionals on each and every emergency call. Their dedication to protecting us, while putting themselves in harm’s way, deserves our respect.”

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