A Pennsylvania state trooper has been charged with child endangerment and harassment after allegedly pepper-spraying his girlfriend’s 13-year-old son because the boy stayed in bed instead of going to school.
Ernest Boatright, 48, has been placed on unpaid leave for pepper-spraying the boy in the house that he shares with his girlfriend in Menallen Township, about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, WTAE-TV reports.
According to court papers, the boy knew he had been pepper sprayed because Boatright had pepper sprayed him before. Boatright denies these allegations and said he actually pepper sprayed two cats on his porch.
“Trooper Boatright vehemently denies the charges that have been filed against him. He is very much looking forward to the opportunity to defend himself and clear his name,” Matthew Zatko, Boatright’s attorney said.
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Boatright, 48, has been a trooper since 1989 and is currently assigned to the New Stanton barracks but has been placed on unpaid leave.
The encounter took place on April 19 and Fayette County child welfare workers referred the case to law enforcement. The charges were filed in November and the trooper was suspended, Zatko said.
Boatright is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 22.