Lehigh Valley

DA announces state troopers justified in using deadly force

Troopers were 'sitting ducks' during traffic stop

VIDEO: District Attorney OK's...

EASTON, Pa. - The Northampton County district attorney has ruled that Pennsylvania state troopers were justified in using deadly force against the suspect accused of shooting a trooper during a Nov. 7 traffic stop.

District Attorney John Morganelli announced during a Thursday news conference that Trooper Ryan Seiple and Cpl. Seth Kelly, who was shot, were justified in shooting at Daniel Clary during a struggle along Route 33 in Plainfield Township.

Video of the stop clearly shows that Clary broke away from state troopers, reached into his car and "comes out shooting," Morganelli said, calling the troopers "sitting ducks."

"The officers had every right to use deadly force to defend themselves," Morganelli said.

Morganelli said his office was tasked with reviewing the troopers' use of deadly force against Clary.

A detective with the Northampton County District Attorney's Office sat in on a state police interview with Seiple and reviewed the video footage of the stop. Morganelli said state police made video and audio recordings of the traffic stop.

Clary was allegedly driving about 87 mph, and Seiple made a lawful traffic stop, Morganelli said. After Clary allegedly failed field sobriety tests, Seiple and Kelly tried to take him into custody under suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the district attorney.

Morganelli said the troopers' behavior during the entire traffic stop was proper and professional. The video and audio recordings clearly showed Clary ignored the troopers' commands and tried to remove Seiple's gun during the struggle, he said.

After Clary broke free, he quickly moved toward his car and "without hesitation" reached inside, grabbed a a gun and started shooting, Morganelli said. He added that he was amazed by the restraint the troopers displayed during the initial phases of the traffic stop.

"The information is very consistent, and I think the video speaks for itself," Morganelli said.

Authorities said Seiple stopped Clary's car shortly after 10 a.m. Nov. 7 near Route 191. The trooper issued Clary a citation and sent the 22-year-old on his way.

As Seiple prepared to drive away, Clary reportedly flagged him down to further discuss the citation. Authorities said Seiple then suspected Clary was under the influence and called for backup.

After Kelly arrived, the troopers conducted field sobriety tests and tried to take Clary into custody. Authorities allege that's when a violent struggle broke out along the highway.

Clary allegedly fought with the two men, and the troopers used a Taser in an effort to subdue the suspect. Clary broke free, retrieved a gun from his car and started firing at troopers, according to state police.

Both men returned fire, and Kelly was hit, falling over a guardrail and firing several shots at Clary's car. Clary was injured and drove himself to Easton Hospital in Wilson Borough.

Clary faces more than a dozen charges, including two counts each of attempted homicide and attempted murder of a police officer. Authorities also charged the 22-year-old with two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and assault of a police officer and single counts of resisting arrest, escape, carrying a firearm without a license and disarming a police officer.

Clary remains in Northampton County Prison after failing to post $1 million bail. His next court date is a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21.

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