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4 police officers needed to subdue Harrisburg man; arrest caught on video

By Dan Miller, danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 5/25/17

A Harrisburg man was arrested and faces multiple charges after Middletown police say he caused a disturbance in the area of the 900 block of Vine Street in Londonderry Township shortly before 6 p.m. …

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4 police officers needed to subdue Harrisburg man; arrest caught on video

Police officers subdue a Harrisburg man during an incident on Vine Street, Londonderry Township. on Wednesday, May 24.
Police officers subdue a Harrisburg man during an incident on Vine Street, Londonderry Township. on Wednesday, May 24.
Posted

A Harrisburg man was arrested and faces multiple charges after Middletown police say he caused a disturbance in the area of the 900 block of Vine Street in Londonderry Township shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24.

Among the charges is aggravated assault. Michael Christopher Morton, 29, spit in the eyes and face of a Middletown police officer, according to arrest papers that borough police filed with District Judge David Judy.

Later during the incident, Morton told police that he is HIV-positive, according to arrest papers.

It took two borough police officers and two State Police troopers — one who was off-duty — to subdue Morton, according to interim Middletown Police Chief George Mouchette. Morton was living in Bethesda Mission, according to arrest papers.

Part of the incident was captured in a non-police video that has been posted on the Middletown Residents United Facebook page.

The video shows the two uniformed Middletown officers and a uniformed State Police trooper, as well as the off-duty trooper in civilian clothes, all trying to subdue Morton. Police are heard repeatedly telling Morton to “stop resisting.”

The video also shows one of the two Middletown officers, Officer Rebecca Hulstine, using a Taser to subdue Morton.

Mouchette said the officers showed “remarkable restraint and professionalism” in attempting to subdue Morton.

The incident also points out the importance of the department having Tasers, Mouchette said. “This could have easily escalated into something where a rifle would be necessary if he was armed.”

According to arrest papers, borough police were dispatched to the 900 block of Vine Street at 5:44 p.m. after a woman at the scene had called police.

Morton had approached the woman and had become “irate,” telling her that he was being chased by men who were trying to beat him up with baseball bats.

Mouchette afterward told the Press & Journal that neither police nor anyone else had seen anyone coming after Morton with baseball bats. However, Mouchette cautioned that the incident remains under investigation.

Morton asked for the woman’s phone so that he could call police. When she refused he persisted, and the woman called police.

When police arrived Morton identified himself and said he was in the area to retrieve personal items from his boyfriend’s residence in the nearby Harborton Place mobile home park, according to arrest papers.

Police asked Morton to get in a patrol car to go over to the residence, but Morton refused and said he would walk over. Neighbors directed police to the residence where Morton had been staying.

A man at the residence gave police a bag of Morton’s clothes, but Morton himself could not be found, police said.

The two Middletown officers split up to try and find Morton. A passing motorist flagged down one of the officers to tell them that a man matching Morton’s description was “dancing and pirouetting in traffic on Vine Street near Rutter’s” convenience store.

A Middletown officer and the off-duty State Police trooper approached Morton but he kept running and dancing away, according to arrest papers.

Police noted that Morton was “acting extremely erratic” and yelling and running in and out of traffic along Vine Street, which police added is a four-lane highway.

By this time the fourth officer, the on-duty state police trooper, had arrived and all four were trying to bring Morton under control.

Morton spit at Hulstine, striking her in the eyes and face, according to the arrest papers. Morton later told police he is HIV-positive, according to the arrest papers.

Hulstine used her Taser, but Morton kept resisting arrest. He hit the on-duty state trooper in the head, Hulstine in the arms, and the other Middletown police officer, Officer Christopher Miller, in the shins.

Morton after being subdued told police he had taken “a large amount of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana.” His pupils were dilated, his heart was racing, and he was having trouble catching his breath, according to arrest papers.

Morton was taken by ambulance to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for treatment.

Morton was arraigned before Judy on Thursday, May 25, and charged with five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of resisting arrest, four counts of disorderly conduct, and one summary count each of public drunkenness and harassment.

He was being held on $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing has been set for Thursday, June 1, before Judy.