South Whitehall Authorizes Insurers to Settle Santo’s Loss of life Litigation | Regional information from Lehigh Valley

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pennsylvania – South Whitehall Township has authorized an insurance company to settle a lawsuit over the death of Joseph Santos, who was shot dead in 2018 after ignoring orders from a police officer near Dorney Park.

The board of commissioners unanimously voted 5-0 on Wednesday for a resolution for QBE Specialty Insurance to settle what has been termed the “Valenzuela litigation”. Juliana Valenzuela was engaged to Santos at the time of his death.

The resolution was not on the Board’s published agenda. The commissioners held a private meeting prior to the meeting to discuss litigation. After the vote, the municipality answered a question about the identity of the insurer, but did not provide any further information.

Santos, 44, was unarmed when he was shot after a caller reported a man jumping on cars near Dorney Park. Santos approached a police car, backed away, then walked up to then-officer Jonathan Roselle, who fired five shots.

Roselle was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter in 2020. He’s no longer with the South Whitehall Police Department.

The Santos estate filed a federal lawsuit against South Whitehall Township and Roselle almost four weeks ago in late July. Among other allegations, the lawsuit states that the community police force and the community itself have given Roselle no or inadequate training on the appropriate use of force, particularly lethal force, in certain circumstances.

The property is also suing Roselle herself, alleging that he used excessive force during the incident and that Santos did not threaten the officer or anyone with death or serious injury.

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