Arthur DiSanto Jr

Arthur DiSanto Jr

UPPER DARBY— A Drexel Hill man is in jail after a violent confrontation with township police that injured four officers Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Upper Darby Police Sgt. Daniel Lanni, and Officers Eric Colella, Nicholas Lanzetta and Robert Wheatley were punched, bit, kicked and had rocks thrown at them as they attempted to arrest Arthur DiSanto Jr., 39, of the 4400 block of Rosemont Avenue, after he fled a traffic stop by a county investigator who was conducting a stolen motorcycle investigation.

DiSanto is in the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord for failing to post 10 percent of $1 million cash bail on 36 counts following a preliminary arraignment with Magisterial District Judge Kelly Micozzie-Aguirre Thursday morning. The charges include four felony aggravated assault counts, a felony fleeing or attempting to elude an officer charge, two felony firearm charges and myriad harassment, assault, reckless endangerment, drug and traffic citations from the incident.

In Lanni’s affidavit of probable cause, Det. James Frey, of the district attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division, was doing an investigation in the Drexel Hill section of the township concerning a stolen motorcycle. Frey had a tip that DiSanto periodically leaves his home on Rosemont on a red Harley Davidson motorcycle to deliver methamphetamines.

Just after 5:10 p.m., Frey saw DiSanto exit his property on the red motorcycle and followed him onto Bishop Avenue heading toward the Westbrook Park section of the township. DiSanto allegedly used two designated left turn lanes to keep going straight on Bishop, at which point Frey turned on his lights and sirens to initiate a traffic stop.

“The male on the motorcycle stopped briefly, turned around, and allegedly exclaimed, ‘What the f--- do you want? F--- off!’” according to the affidavit. DiSanto then made a U-turn in the middle of the street to take Bishop back in the direction he initially came from. Frey followed him.

On the Bishop Avenue Bridge DiSanto lost control of his bike on the median strip and he fell to the ground. He ran into the woods off the street and Frey observed him “reaching in his waistband as if he were attempting to draw a firearm before fleeing into the woods." Colella and Lanzetta arrived at the location and gave chase on foot in the woods for DiSanto. He eventually made it across the creek and up a hill and hid behind a tree, the affidavit states.

As officers neared Disanto, he jumped out and threw a large rock that hit Lanzetta’s chest and the right side of his face. He was eventually tackled by Lanzetta on a roadway underneath the Bishop Avenue Bridge but he, “immediately resisted all commands and physical attempts to be taken into custody." Lanni, Wheatley and Officer John Brennan then arrived at the scene and helped to restrain and arrest DiSanto.

“In addition to pulling away and resisting arrest, (DiSanto) attacked by punching, biting and kicking,” reads the affidavit.

The struggle lasted for a minute and resulted in Colella being bit and having the skin broken on his right forearm and Wheatley punched in the right side of his nose and his right thumb extended and bruised. These two officers, plus Lanni, all had cuts and bruises on their knees, arms and hands. The screen of Wheatley’s cell phone was also broken during the confrontation.

All officers were treated at Delaware County Memorial Hospital and released. Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said Thursday that the officers are scheduled to return to duty next week.

Officers eventually found a loaded handgun in the area that DiSanto fled from the bridge and two baggies on his person of a substance that tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. The registration plate on the motorcycle did not belong to that vehicle.

DiSanto is due back in court Aug. 13 for a preliminary hearing.

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