Trial begins for Chester County, Pa. sergeant accused of shooting at driver

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Monday, January 29, 2024
Trial begins for Chesco sergeant accused of shooting at driver
Trial begins for Chester County, Pa. sergeant accused of shooting at driver

WEST CALN TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Chester County sergeant is facing trial more than two years after he allegedly shot at a woman as she was driving away from a traffic stop.

On Monday, jury selection began in the trial of West Caln Township Police Sergeant Anthony Sparano.

As attorneys spent all day whittling down a pool of about 75 potential jurors, the driver at the center of the case spoke out in front of the Chester County Justice Center.

"I'm still suffering," said Takeisha Landry of the incident, which happened just after midnight on November 10, 2021.

The Chester County District Attorney's Office says Landry, who lives in North Carolina, was driving near Compass Road and West King's Highway when Sparano pulled her over for turning left at a red light.

SEE ALSO: Chester County police sergeant due in court on charges of shooting at driver in 2021

Chester County police sergeant due in court on charges of shooting at driver in 2021

Landry says she was afraid because she was in an unfamiliar area on a dark road so she started recording with her phone.

"Immediately when he snatched the camera out of my hand, that's when I drove away and he shot at me immediately," said Landry, a 43-year-old mother of three.

It's an action that the Chester County District Attorney's Office says was not justified since Sparano wasn't in immediate danger.

"She came, I would say less than two inches away from her death," said Landry's attorney Richard Gordon.

Gordon and Landry spoke outside the courthouse along with the Racial Justice Network, which has sought to bring attention to the case. The group is demanding Sparano face even more charges. The district attorney's office has charged him with simple assault and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

"We feel that we need a federal investigation that upgraded charges from a misdemeanor to a felony because he tried to kill Mrs. Landry," said Elder James Johnson, CEO of Racial Justice Network.

The organization sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for a federal investigation. They also have not ruled out the possibility of filing civil charges.

The simple assault charges against Sparano stem from allegations that, when Landry did eventually pull over to what she considered a well-lit area, Sparano pulled her out of the car, kicked her and hit her.

Action News obtained video of the confrontation in which Sparano could be heard screaming, "Get out of the (expletive) car" multiple times.

Landry can be heard responding in the video by saying, "I'm in a seatbelt."

"He immediately started punching me in my face and grabbing me by my hair and pulling me out of my vehicle even though I still had my seatbelt on," she said.

Sparano's attorney declined to speak with Action News about the ongoing trial. Officials with the West Caln Police Department and township did not respond to Action News' request for comment.

During jury selection, potential jurors were asked about any experiences, relationships or incidents that could prevent them from being "a fair and impartial juror."

Jurors were asked questions like whether they'd heard any details of the case. The judge also read a list of people who could be called to testify, asking jurors if they knew any of those people personally.

Landry's name was one of those called. She confirmed to Action News that she's been subpoenaed to testify in the trial, which the judge expects to last about four days.

The Racial Justice Network is calling for Sparano to be fired. They, though, say the West Caln Township Police Department won't even confirm whether he still works there. The department's website still lists Sparano as a sergeant.

"We believe he is a threat to society," said Johnson.