Shot by State Trooper
A father who broke a protection-from-abuse (PFA) order was shot and killed by a Pennsylvania State Trooper on Nov. 7 while resisting arrest, according to a terse press release from the State Police.
At 10:42 p.m., two troopers responded to a PFA violation at a rural home near Union Township in Lebanon County. They encountered Andrew Dwonchyk, 40, on the property in his car in violation of the PFA against him. Violation of a PFA is a criminal offense, and the officers attempted to arrest him.
One of the troopers tried to pull Dwonchyk out of his car. Dwonchyk reportedly started to drive away, dragging the arresting officer forward and then in reverse. The other trooper hit Dwonchyk with a taser. When the taser failed to incapacitate Dwonchyk, the state police report said the trooper “transitioned to his department-issued firearm” and shot him.
Both the State Police Troop L Major Case Team and the Lebanon County District Attorney's Office are investigating the incident.
Wanted to Visit Kids
Dwonchyk's friend of 30 years, Jon Michael, learned of his death by a text from another friend. Michael told PennLive Patriot-News he did not know Dwonchyk intended to violate the PFA. He had advised Dwonchyk to wait out the temporary PFA.
“I get it. I have kids, too. He wanted to see them,” Michael said.
The mother of Dwonchyk's two sons had obtained the temporary PFA (also known commonly as a restraining order) after an emotionally violent incident in which Dwonchyk publicly intimidated and pursued the mother, her friend, and the children. He threatened to kill himself in front of their kids, according to the court order acquired by PennLive.
The PFA was due to expire Nov. 22.
It's a Crime to Violate a PFA
It is an “indirect criminal contempt of court” to disobey a PFA. Although a temporary PFA is issued in civil court, any violation is treated as a criminal matter. At a minimum, a first offense is charged as a criminal misdemeanor. Depending on the nature of the violation, however, a first offense may be escalated to a felony. Subsequent violations will be charged as felonies.
Any violation of a PFA becomes a permanent part of a person's criminal record and cannot be expunged. This can affect everything from employment, business relationships, and even visitation and custody of children.
What If You Are Served With a PFA?
Don't panic. Breathe. This is very serious. You are now under a court order. Your whole future may be at stake. Comply, without resistance, with whatever law enforcement tells you to do.
Read the PFA carefully. Do not make any attempt whatsoever to contact the plaintiff or any other person(s) named in the restraining order. Ask family and friends not to make contact on your behalf because that could be considered a violation.
If you've been served with a PFA, time is of the essence. Call the attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for experienced legal counsel.