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The family of a man shot and killed by a Reading police officer who was later charged with manslaughter is suing the officer, his sergeant and the town, saying the shooting could have been avoided had the department followed its own policies.
Alan Greenough, 43, was shot and killed three years ago Wednesday by Reading police Officer Erik Drauschke, who was indicted on a manslaughter charge last fall. He has pleaded not guilty.
"Alan was unarmed," the suit says. "Alan was very close to his family, particularly his brother and mother (Catherine Rawson). They miss him terribly. This shooting never should have happened."
Police arrived at Greenough's apartment, part of the East Coast Gas property, on Feb. 3 to arrest him after a dispute with his roommate the night before. Greenough refused to come out of his apartment and was able to escape through a window.
In the lawsuit, Rawson and her son, Anthony Perrotti, allege that Reading police didn't follow their protocols: they didn't form a perimeter around the apartment immediately after they arrived to make sure Greenough didn't escape. They didn't call for backup from NEMLEC, the regional force usually relied upon in a barricaded person situation. And in the final seconds of Greenough's life, Drauschke didn't wait for backup before he approached Greenough as the man sat in a parked Hummer in the parking lot.
Prosecutors have said that Drauschke shot Greenough within 12 seconds of spotting him and calling for backup. During Drauschke's arraignment, the assistant district attorney said Greenough had no weapons, made no threats and didn't try to run away, though he did walk toward the officer saying, "shoot me." Greenough was unarmed.
The suit provides some insight into a 2019 inquest held by a district court judge over three months. The family said this was the first time it received "meaningful information" about Greenough's death.
The judge in the case said Drauschke did not act "with malice" in the shooting but took an "unnecessary risk," the suit says.
"His actions were wanton and reckless and amounted to criminal negligence," the judge wrote, according to the lawsuit. The suit did not identify the judge.
She added that Drauschke could have used a lower level of force, like his baton or pepper spray, and could have waited for backup.
“The court does not credit Officer Drauschke’s testimony that he was facing a deadly threat and had no choice other than to [shoot] Alan Greenough," she wrote, according to the lawsuit. "If Officer Drauschke believed Mr. Greenough was armed with a pole, he could have waited for back up from officers who were already on scene prior to approaching him.”
Greenough's brother, Perrotti, worked at the gas station where his brother lived and talked to him just minutes before he died. He heard the shots fired and saw his brother laying bloodied on the ground.
In the lawsuit, the family says it was kept in the dark about Greenough's death. The Reading police refused a public records request, and would not provide the name of the officer who shot him.
An attorney for the family declined to comment. The Reading town manager did not return messages seeking comment.
The family is seeking $7.5 million as part of the suit. Drauschke is now on unpaid leave. He had been on paid leave before he was indicted.
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