When Daylan McLee got a panicked phone call from his sister in the early morning hours of March 20, 2016, he rushed to the American Legion bar in Dunbar, Pennsylvania. A fight had broken out, please come get her, his sister pleaded.
When he arrived, the scene in the bar parking lot about 45 miles south of Pittsburgh was chaotic, but McLee recognized a man holding a gun. Surveillance video from the bar shows McLee approach the man, take the weapon and quickly toss it in a grassy area between cars.
That action would put McLee in jail for almost a year awaiting trial on what he claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday were falsified charges.
McLee, 29, alleged that four Pennsylvania State Troopers lied in a police report about the incident and falsified charges against him after one of the troopers fired two shots at him and struck a nearby house. A jury found him not guilty of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and all other charges in a March 2017 trial.
"Mr. McLee only wishes to state at present time that he wants the Pennsylvania State Police to be accountable for his malicious prosecution and to acknowledge what they did to him," his attorney Alec Wright wrote in a statement.
A message left for a spokeswoman at the Pennsylvania State Police was not immediately returned Thursday. No attorney information was listed in court documents for the four troopers named in the lawsuit.
Wright said McLee didn't realize until he was arrested after leaving the scene that the trooper was shooting at him specifically.
The lawsuit comes less than a month after two incidents in Alabama and Illinois where white police officers fatally shot black men with guns who witnesses said were intervening in shooting incidents.
Emantic Bradford Jr . was killed by an officer after a shooting at a mall in Hoover, Alabama, on Thanksgiving night. Authorities have said an unnamed officer shot him after seeing a gun, which relatives say the 21-year-old Bradford had a permit to carry legally. Police have retracted initial statements that Bradford was involved in the original incident.
Earlier in November, security guard Jemel Roberson was killed while holding at gunpoint a man involved in a shooting in the barroom. Witnesses told investigators that the officer ordered the 26-year-old Roberson to drop his gun before opening fire.
Wright said the trooper who shot at McLee lied in his statements used for an affidavit of probable cause, saying McLee raised a handgun and pointed it at him twice— when he first arrived on scene, and before McLee allegedly jumped in an SUV and fled. Another trooper said McLee changed his story, admitted to lying and to having had possession of a firearm before the shooting.
Wright said the surveillance video shows McLee had disarmed the man and quickly discarded the weapon before troopers arrived at the bar and well before the video shows the trooper shoot at McLee. The video also shows McLee did not point a handgun at the trooper and had his back to the trooper when at least one shot was fired, the lawsuit said. The interrogation video shows McLee maintained from the beginning that he had only had a weapon in his hand briefly after disarming the man when he arrived.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for McLee's time in jail, the loss of his job and time away from his two small children.