Fired Morrisville Police Cpl. Goes on Trial Tuesday
A sordid chapter in Morrisville Borough history will begin to come to a close this week as former Police Cpl Michael Pitcher will stand trial beginning Tuesday in the Court of Common Pleas in Doylestown on one felony count of unlawful use of a computer, official oppression, terroristic threats, and harassment.
Pitcher’s arrest in 2019 and subsequent impacts have touched the borough in many ways; effecting police staffing, budgeting, and in the opinion of many, the outcome of 2019 municipal elections
Pitcher was originally charged in June of 2019 for threatening and harassing a Yardley man (and his wife) and accessing police computers illegally in order to harass and threaten the victim(s).
According to the probable cause, Pitcher is alleged to have said “you better have cameras at your house as I will be destroying your property, especially your Porsche,” when using a cell phone with a “spoofing app.”
The victims also told police about their drive back to their home, when traveling River Road, on April 6 in their white Porsche in which they were confronted by another motorist, who was driving “aggressively and erratically” and tailgating the couple in a black Chevrolet SUV just outside of Yardley Borough, court records show.
The couple told police the driver tried to pass them on a narrow two-lane roadway. The victim driving told police he exited River Rd at the intersection of Black Rock Road and the SUV sped up causing its tires to squeal as it continued traveling south on River Rd. The non- driving victim stated she believed the SUV had a New Jersey license plate. Within a short time of arriving at their home, the couple began to receive the threatening and harassing calls, in which the caller identifies himself as the driver behind them on River Rd. The couple told police they believed the only way someone could have obtained their personal information was via a license plate lookup/search, police wrote in court documents.
Pitcher admitted to investigators, according to the probable cause affidavit, to being behind the white Porsche, and using police data systems to obtain information about the registration information for the car, stating he was going to issue a traffic citation.
He said the phone contact (s) with the victims were to ascertain who was operating the vehicle, denying he made any threats.
The case, which was originally scheduled for trial in January of 2020, was continued due to a scheduling conflict, Pitcher’s attorney Louis R Busico had at the time.
Then COVID happened, ceasing all case movement in Bucks County Court system for months.
Meanwhile, the Morrisville Borough Council, due to court delays, costs, and a want to deal with “police brutality” as one official put it, terminated the then suspended Cpl.in June of 2020.
Since Pitcher’s suspension, Chief of Police, George McClay sought his firing, but council at the time (2019) decided to err on the side of caution. The caution came from borough attorneys who warned if Pitcher wasn’t found guilty at trial, legal action and potential reinstatement could be forced upon borough. Not to mention back pay that up until that point in time was months; unlike today where the two-year anniversary of his suspension passed three months ago.
Once the council majority changed, as a result of the 2019 municipal elections, the push to terminate Pitcher was on beginning with the failed attempt in February 2020.
Police staffing shortages and costs were cited for the February vote that ultimately failed.
With Coronavirus in full effect and no end in site council members in June proposed a motion to fire Pitcher again. Despite warnings from the borough solicitor of the potential repercussions that could be felt by the cash-strapped municipality, prior to Pitcher getting due process in court.
Before the council members spoke to the motion.
“In bringing the motion said that goes into effect immediately I think in light of the fact of the pandemic hitting that’s thrown a monkey wrench into the scheduling of the criminal courts. We had hoped to wait to defer our action until the courts to their action against Cpl. Pitcher. And now that that’s been delayed by ultimately what might be another year beyond what it would have been initially and because this is a case of alleged police brutality …and taking advantage of the public I think its important that we take a position, a moral position that we’re not going to condone police misconduct,” said Council Vice President Robert Paul.
Councilwoman Nancy Sherlock’ changed her vote from “no’ to ‘yes”, never providing a public reason for the change in her stance.
Despite lingering concerns that “this could come back and bite us in the ass” as one official said, the firing was made official on June 15th.
Council members Mike Yager, Eileen Dreisbach, and Justin Bowers voted no on the motion, as they did in February, each citing legal and financial concerns in their votes against the motion.
“I think based on the passage of time, national circumstances and our own needs with balancing our budget we should just decide to move forward and take the final step and terminate him” said Paul.
Council President Ted Parker said “I wished we had done it last year. Its just been a stain on the police department and we need to rectify it.”
Pitcher’s attorney, the venerable Busico said when learning of the first attempt to fire his client in February, Michael Pitcher nearly lost his life protecting the citizens of Bucks County; to attempt to terminate his employment in this fashion-prior to any conclusion of his pending case is highly inappropriate and in my opinion unjust.
Pitcher has never publicly commented about his arrest and firing by Morrisville.
Judge Brian T. McGuffin will oversee the proceedings in courtroom 460
Editors Note: To read the entire criminal complaint please click here