Family of man who died helping shooting victim at local Walmart suing off-duty officer, township

CENTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The paperwork is more than 30 pages thick and just filed in the federal courthouse. It details the night of Nov. 6 at a Beaver County Walmart where a man who was trying to help lost his life.

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“It’s terrible, it’s a nightmare that never stops when you close your eyes at night you replay everything that went on,” said Marcy Beatty who’s Vinyard’s fiancé.

Beatty was with Vinyard that tragic night. The two were trying to help a man who was just shot in a Walmart parking lot in Monaca when things took a turn.

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In cell phone video, you can see a man motioning at Vinyard in an orange shirt before tackling him to the ground, Vinyard died a short time later.

“He didn’t identify himself as a cop and he’s screaming at Mr. Vinyard backing up, saying, ‘That’s my wife over there, fiancée, she’s helping, we are helping.’ That’s when he charged,” said Attorney Joel Sansone.

That man is now identified as Center Township police officer John Hawk. While state police have not charged him criminally, this family is suing Hawk and Center Township over Vinyard’s death.

“Nothing is going to bring him back, but this cop needs justice, he needs to pay for what he did to my brother. He’s walking around free, and my brother is in the ground,” said Deborah Little, Vinyard’s sister.

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The lawsuit claims Hawk’s attack was “unprovoked, unwarranted, vicious and constitutes unconstitutional excessive force.”

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“We think once we get into the discovery of this case, we are going to find this bad cop wasn’t the only bad cop in Center Township. We think we are going to find there was very little training, very little supervision, very little discipline. We think Center Township in terms of the police department is the wild west,” Sansone said.

This family believes this lawsuit will lead them to their end goal, justice for Ken.

“I can’t say I would have gotten out of the car to help somebody, but he did, and he did the right thing and now he was killed because he did the right thing,” Little said.

We reached out to Center Township about the lawsuit and were told that it had not yet been served.

As for the criminal investigation, state police are still actively working the case and any determination will be turned over to the Attorney General’s Office.

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