Pittsburgh Police

Fired Pittsburgh Sergeant On Stand In Civil Rights Trial

May 25, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A fired Pittsburgh police sergeant is set to continue testifying in his civil rights trial on charges he wrongly beat a drunken man and then lied about it in a report.

Former Sgt. Stephen Matakovich testified Wednesday that he thought 19-year-old Gabriel Despres was preparing to attack him and that he struck Despres to prevent that.

But federal prosecutors say a surveillance video of the incident doesn't support Matakovich, who is charged with deprivation of civil rights and falsification of a document.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said he’s considering filing charges against Pittsburgh Police officer Raymond Toomey in connection with a violent arrest Sunday outside The Flats bar on Carson Street in the South Side.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While waiting for his bus downtown, Melvin Dawson said he doesn’t dislike Mayor Bill Peduto.

“He’s OK,” he said. “But I think they messed up when they let that police chief go."

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Public safety officials in Pittsburgh have announced plans to bring back a mounted police unit to help patrol the western Pennsylvania city.

The department said Wednesday that it was in the "early phases" of re-establishing the mounted unit after a 14-year absence to patrol the entertainment districts and for numerous special events.

Several full-time officers will be part of the unit in the special deployment division and others will serve as needed.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Between Scott Schubert's recent appointed as Pittsburgh's new police chief and President Donald Trump's vow to be a “law and order" president, Pittsburgh Director of Alliance for Police Accountability Brandi Fisher is very busy.

Google Maps

Pittsburgh's mayor and acting police chief on Tuesday met with the family of a homeowner fatally shot by officers responding to a home burglar alarm.

Police say officers shot 57-year-old Christopher Thompkins after someone fired gunshots in their direction as they arrived at Thompkins’ home about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Google Maps

The ex-wife of a Pittsburgh homeowner fatally shot by police responding to a burglary call says officers "shot the wrong guy."

Brenda and Christopher Thompkins were in bed when they spotted an intruder in the house at about 4 a.m. Sunday.

Christopher Thompkins grabbed Brenda's gun and was headed downstairs when he fired at the intruder. Police say two officers who responded to a security alarm thought the shots were fired at them. They returned fire and killed Thompkins.

Andrew Harnik / AP

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department hopes the more than 3,000 police officers from across the country heading to D.C. this week to help secure the inauguration will learn some things while they’re there.

Thirteen Pittsburgh police officers and two supervisors left for D.C. Wednesday, will be sworn in as federal marshals Thursday and then put to work Friday providing security along the inaugural parade route.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

For decades, the city of Pittsburgh has struggled to diversify its police force. The Census Bureau says that African Americans comprise about 25 percent of the city’s population, but according to the Bureau of Police, African Americans only make up 13 percent of the police force.

“But we’ve made a turn,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto met with the city’s public safety director, police chief and commander of special deployment Thursday to set a standard operating procedure for de-escalating public protests.

Google Maps/ 90.5 WESA

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in an appeal that could decide whether Pittsburgh police officers have to live in the city.

In 2012, the state legislature passed Act 195, which said a municipality may require officers to live in city limits. The previous statute said cities shall have a residency requirement.

A year later, Pittsburgh voters passed a referendum requiring residency.

The Fraternal Order of Police argued residency falls under the category of “working conditions” and is subject to collective bargaining.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A federal jury will be allowed to decide whether a white Pittsburgh police officer violated the rights of a black man left paralyzed after he was shot during a traffic stop almost four years ago.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly on Monday rejected a motion for summary judgment on the portion of the civil rights lawsuit involving the officer who shot Leon Ford in November 2012.

Kelly also allowed the suit to continue against another officer who Ford said tried to drag him out of his car, but threw out claims against a third officer and the city of Pittsburgh.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three hours of testimony on the use of police body cameras before a state House committee on Wednesday boiled down to three main issues: when to record, how much to release to the public and how long to retain the files.

Democratic National Convention / Screengrab

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay on Monday requested a review of his appearance at the Democratic National Convention. Two entities will investigate to determine if McLay’s appearance violated any city code.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay said he broke no rules by speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Tuesday night, despite backlash from the police union.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh public safety and emergency response departments are working together to create a new strategy for dealing with large events and natural disasters.

The changes were proposed after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s April rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during which three people were arrested and four police officers treated for minor injuries.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh man's lawyer says his client has accepted a $125,000 settlement more than six years after the man — who is black — says three white police officers wrongfully arrested him and then beat him.

Attorney Joel Sansone says his 24-year-old client, Jordan Miles, decided to end the litigation and put the events behind him. Miles wasn't immediately available to comment.

City council plans to take up legislation on the proposed settlement on Tuesday. A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto says the deal was reached during federal mediation.

Shane Simmons / flickr

A mistrial has been declared in a civil rights lawsuit brought by a Pittsburgh police officer who clerked for the former chief. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted the mistrial after Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford said her attorney was too ill to continue. Montgomery-Ford says she was suspended three years ago because she testified before a federal grand jury into alleged corruption by the administration of former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. We'll discuss the case with Trib reporter Brian Bowling.

A fired Pittsburgh police sergeant accused of wrongly pushing and punching a drunken man at Heinz Field and then lying about it says he's fighting the criminal case against him.

Ex-sergeant Stephen Matakovich has been indicted by a federal grand jury. He's appealing his firing.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones said Wednesday they're prepared to fight the case wherever they need to fight it.

The police chief and the public safety director agreed to fire the 22-year veteran for using what was deemed to be "unreasonable" force during the arrest in November.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay can't be with all of his officers, all the time. While they're driving their beat, responding to calls and policing the city, they're on their own. Negative reports, either by the officers or about the officers, are often he-said, she-said cases.

But that could be changing. Pittsburgh is one of five cities in Pennsylvania that received federal Department of Justice funding to outfit their officers with body cameras. The small cameras, worn on the officer's uniform, record interactions between police officers and the community.

Ian Ransley / flickr

While they may not be investigating high-profile crimes like homicide or robbery, Pittsburgh’s anti-graffiti squad provides a valuable resource to the city. Revived in Nov. 2015, the squad recently arrested one of Pittsburgh’s major taggers. To get the scoop on what led up to the arrest, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with graffiti squad detectives Alphonso Sloan and Braden Seese.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is celebrating a ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which overturned an arbitrator’s decision to allow Pittsburgh police officers to live outside the city.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following a call to prayer at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Saturday, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police outlined a five-point plan to help protect the city’s Muslim community.

“With increasing Islamophobia in America, it is very important that community leaders and local authorities both collaborate to be as proactive as possible in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the Muslim Community,” said Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

If you're headed out for a night on the South Side, you could find yourself having to pay for parking past 6 p.m.

City officials are planning on eventually enforcing parking meters through midnight.

They haven't said when the change would take effect, but hope to start enforcing it in the coming months. 

This comes as part of the new initiative developed by Mayor Bill Peduto, City Council President Bruce Kraus and Nighttime Economy Coordinator Allison Harden to ensure a safer business district on East Carson Street in the South Side.

Kaffeeeinstein / Flickr

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama proposed funding for 50,000 body-worn cameras for police officers nationwide, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is getting its share.

Black Women for Positive Change

Pittsburgh community leaders, educators, pastors and police officers met with students to discuss violence and how it affects growing children at the Community College of Allegheny County's North Side campus on Thursday. 

The gathering occurred just days after two teens and a third man were arrested in the September homicide of a Carrick High School freshman.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

High school senior Logan Tewell said he needs to start working out.

The Bedford County 17 year old said he's interested in a career with the Pennsylvania State Police, so Trooper Brian Arrington told him the usual stuff. Keep your grades up, stay out of trouble and keep on the right path. 

screenshot from CPRB hearing video

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh and an officer with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police alleging intimidation and harassment of three black residents in September 2013.

Pages