CLEARFIELD – A state prison inmate in court for an appeal hearing Friday threw himself down on the floor, refused to participate and had to be carried from the courtroom.
During Motions Court Monday, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman said Joseph Knauss, 31, claimed he was sick because instead of receiving his suboxone, he was given a placebo at the State Correctional Institute in Houtzdale that day. He slumped to the floor and refused to participate.
“When I left, he was still laying there,” Ammerman said before asking two of the sheriff deputies to put on the record what occurred after he left the courtroom.
Sheriff Deputy Mike Rowles said Knauss was given multiple opportunities to walk out on his own, but eventually the officers carried him out for a short distance and then put him down.
Ammerman noted that he saw Knauss as they passed his office and heard him saying “ow” repeatedly.
Rowles said they asked him if he wouldn’t rather walk than be carried, but they ended up carrying him to the courthouse annex building. There they put him down and explained how difficult the steps would be.
That was when he got up and walked. Once they were outside, Rowles said there were people there and Knauss again began to “act up.”
Knauss went limp and they had to hold him so he wouldn’t hurt himself by hitting the brick building or the sidewalk. As he was carried to the sheriff’s vehicle, he started yelling, claiming he was injured and had been thrown down the stairs, he said.
They put him in the back seat of the vehicle, head first. He immediately sat up on his own and was fine on the return trip, Rowles said, which was similar to how he was when they had transported him to the courthouse earlier that afternoon.
Once they reached the prison and the corrections officers approached the vehicle, he refused to get out of the car. These officers read Knauss their procedures for this type of situation and when he still refused to get out, they sprayed him with pepper spray. He screamed that he had been injured and couldn’t move.
“They ripped him out of the car,” Rowles said as they took possession of Knauss. All of this was recorded.
Rowles said he and the other deputy were warned of this kind of behavior was possible with Knauss when they picked him up at the prison.
Ammerman asked Deputy Mark Coudriet if he had anything to add. Coudriet stated that Knauss is not even a drug addict (and would not need suboxone) and his claims that they injured him were unfounded.
Rowles explained that while Knauss was in the holding room waiting for the hearing that they constantly checked on him. He never asked for anything or claimed to be sick, he said. He even saw Knauss get up and walk around with nothing to indicate he was having any problems.
Ammerman shook his head stating, “I don’t know that I’ve ever had anyone throw themselves on the floor and refuse to participate before.”
Knauss, who was representing himself, was scheduled for a hearing on a petition filed under the Post Conviction Relief Act.
In that case, Knauss pleaded guilty to simple assault in August of 2015 and was sentenced to six months to one year in prison. This sentence was to run consecutive to his current sentence of four to eight years for aggravated assault from Lehigh County.