Brentwood Man Sentenced In Region's First Hate Crime Prosecution

Feb 24, 2017

A white man convicted of throwing a black man onto the downtown Pittsburgh Wood Street T-station tracks has been sentenced to three years in federal prison. 

It is the first federal hate crime to be prosecuted in the region.

Ryan Kyle, 23, of Brentwood, was sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence that will run concurrently with his state prison term for the same assault.

Video surveillance of the May 2015 attack shows Kyle and the victim, Kevin Lockett, who was 53 at the time, getting of the T and after a brief confrontation, Kyle picks up Lockett and throws him onto the tracks. When Lockett gets back to the platform, Kyle grabs him again and begins punching him. 

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon handed down the three year federal sentence, based on reports that indicated Kyle had beaten Lockett based on his race. Kyle also was ordered to serve three years' probation and to pay $800 to Kevin Lockett for a lost cellphone and some miscellaneous expenses related to the May 30, 2015, beating.

Kyle's supporters wouldn't comment afterward. But his attorney, Almon Burke, said, "The federal government wants to dump it all on Ryan."

Burke, who is black, said the encounter between his client and Lockett was just a fight between two drunken guys and Kyle was too drunk to remember most of what happened. He contended that some racial slurs the prosecutor attributed to Kyle were likely said by others with him.

Still, Burke and Kyle acknowledged that he used a slur and that Lockett was targeted because of his race.

Both Kyle and Lockett were on the same train when Lockett heard racial slurs as he was trying to get off the train near PNC Park as a large crowd from a Kenny Chesney concert was getting on board. When Lockett later got off at a downtown station, he exchanged words with Kyle and four of Kyle's friends then they confronted him, Chung said.

Lockett, who wore large dark glasses into the courtroom, suffered facial fractures, a concussion and eye injuries for which he's still being treated. When Chung told the judge Lockett had undergone five surgeries, an agitated Lockett held up seven fingers and repeatedly said "seven" from his seat in the gallery.

Lockett told U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon he didn't agree with the sentence. But he also struck a conciliatory tone. "I don't like to keep it black and white," he said, but added that he hoped the case would "educate" Kyle and the public about racial tensions. He noted that surveillance video showed a white woman rushing to help him while a black woman sitting nearby "didn't do nothing but pop her gum."

Kyle's friends were convicted of lesser charges in state court and sentenced to probation. He faced more severe state charges, and was the only one charged with a federal hate crime, based on surveillance video of the beating.