Citation at heart of Wilkes-Barre decision removed

WILKES-BARRE – Unable to provide her insurance on the spot and prevent her car from being towed, Darlene Duggins-Magdalinski later produced evidence, leading police to drop the charge amid the traffic stop that she supported was based on her race.

Tuesday’s withdrawal of the citation for operating a motor vehicle without the requisite financial responsibility did not change Duggins-Magdalinski’s view or that of the union defending the Wilkes-City Police Department officer. Barre, Dan Duffy, for keeping her cool as she warmed up during the Aug 13 stoppage.

“I know what happened and, of course, their job is to protect that officer,” Duggins-Magdalinski said Wednesday.

To support the charge of racial profiling and the Wilkes-Barre City Police Benevolent Association Allegation Duggins-Magdalinski tried to get out of the shutdown by using his influence as a member of the police advisory board overseeing the department, with each side calling for the release of video from body cameras worn by Duffy and two others officers. Each side also issued counter demands – Duggins-Magdalinski, who is black, asked Duffy, who is white, to lose his job; the union asked that she be removed from the committee for a good cause, and for the fact that she is not a resident of the city.

Mayor George Brown, who nominated Duggins-Magdalinski, 53, of Hanover Township, to the committee in 2020, made the video footage available to the media on Friday in the interest of full public disclosure. It is displayed in three files on the YouTube Leader Times channel.

The images will also be made available to the Committee pending the report on its first complaint filed by Duggins-Magdalinski which is being investigated by a police department lieutenant. The volunteer organization will make a recommendation to Brown and Police Chief Joseph Coffay on what action to take.

Duggins-Magdalinski said she would not participate in the Committee’s review of her complaint. “I believe they will be fair,” she said.

The removal of the insurance-related citation was nothing out of the ordinary, said Officer Joe Homza, president of the PBA.

“Even though she had no proof at the time, she had insurance. Like anyone else who produces it, the (citation) would be withdrawn or dismissed at the time of the hearing if the person did indeed have insurance,” Homza said. “And that has nothing to do with his position or his complaint. It is common practice.

Four other traffic citations remained pending against Duggins-Magdalinski and his case was listed for summary trial Sept. 7 before District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre.

Contact Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Kevin A. Perras