Video shows Pennsylvania officer plowing down woman in municipal parking lot

Chad Pradelli Image
Monday, July 15, 2019
Video shows officer run over woman after township concert
Video shows officer run over woman after township concert. Chad Pradelli has more on Action News at 11 p.m. on July 11, 2019.

UPPER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- An police officer plowed down a woman in a municipal parking lot two years ago. The case is in litigation and there are questions about who's to blame.

It was a warm June night. Upper Merion Township's annual "Concerts Under the Stars" series was underway.

Natasha Shahu walked along cars in a parking lot when an officer hit her from behind.

"I'm very lucky I am alive," Shahu said.

Shahu describes the accident like a tornado hitting.

The video shows her stagger up, clearly in pain and asks Officer James Siegfried, "Didn't you see me?"

"He told me, 'I hit you.' I said, 'Are you sure I'm going to survive? I don't want to die. I'm too young.' I remember those words," Shahu recalled.

Attorney Todd Jacobs who represents Shahu spoke with 6abc, as well.

"My client, Mrs. Shahu, who is wearing a bright yellow top and white pants. There are no obstructions. There's absolutely no reason that if this gentleman was paying attention that he couldn't have avoided this accident," said Jacobs.

When Jacobs brought the video to 6abc Investigators, we reviewed it and determined it to be simply an accident.

But a closer look at the police report and it seems police are trying to blame the 53-year-old for being mowed down.

The police report states Officer Siegfried admits he didn't see Shahu, but the majority of it focuses on the police parking lot being clearly a restricted area.

Jacobs is critical of the report, saying, "They take a statement, and prepare a police report which frankly is one of the most self-serving bias documents I've read in 12 years of practicing law."

Shahu had just left the summer concert at the township building with her husband, daughter, and grandchildren. The township's public parking lot was bustling with families. An ice cream truck even patrolled the grounds. Officer Siegfried, at one point, stops to allow a dad and his child pass by.

Shahu said the concert had just ended and she was helping her daughter and young grandchildren to their car.

Her husband was in the upper parking lot. He told her that the lot was congested and he couldn't get to her. So she tried to make her way to him, and then got lost. She claims she didn't realize she was in a restricted area.

Jacobs said, "I would say that simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time in no way permits an officer to run you down with his vehicle."

Upper Merion police and a private attorney retained by the township declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

We submitted Right to Know requests to Camden County, Wilmington, and the Philadelphia police departments to find out how often police hit pedestrians. We found them to be rare.

Shahu said she suffered a broken hand, torn ankle tendon along with months of back and neck pain. She said she's incurred $30,000 in medical expenses. She and her attorney said the township has only offered around $20,000.

Jacobs said, "The township here has been unfair. And that's why I'm in this chair right now."

The sign entering the police parking lot reads 'Police Only.' But it's not clear if that mean just vehicles or also pedestrians. We have many questions, but, again, police are not commenting due to the pending litigation.