Pittsburgh Police

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A jury did not reach a verdict in Leon Ford’s federal case against two Pittsburgh police officers Wednesday and will return for more deliberations Thursday.

Ford is suing officers David Derbish and Andrew Miller in federal civil court for a 2012 shooting that left him paralyzed. Derbish faces an allegation of excessive force, and Miller is accused of assault and battery.

Maria Scapellato / 90.5 WESA

The Lantern Building on Liberty Avenue downtown could soon become a new police substation.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Sept. 22, 2017 at 2:54 p.m.

 

The lawyer for the Ohio man who was beaten by a Pittsburgh police officer outside PPG Paints Arena late Tuesday night declined to say whether his client, Daniel Adelman will sue for excessive use of force. A bystander caught the confrontation in a video that has been widely shared on social media.

Screengrab from video posted by Joce Smith via Facebook

*UPDATED: Sept. 21, 2017 at 7:54 a.m.

Pittsburgh officials are reviewing the violent arrest of a man by five city officers, an encounter recorded by a bystander and posted to Facebook.

The 52-second video shows one officer, in particular, punching the man on the ground while saying, "Stop resisting" Tuesday night near PPG Paints Arena. Officers can be heard cursing, and one calls for a Taser.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Law enforcement officials are attempting another concerted effort to reduce gun crime in the city. The Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, or PIRC, a joint city and federal project, began in 2010, but faded out within four years.

“[We] never had the buy in or the command staff, let alone the officers themselves. The difference is we have an entirely new command staff,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who was a member of City Council when PIRC was created.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Eighteen members of a SWAT team are OK after they were exposed to a deadly chemical during a raid early Wednesday, Pittsburgh police said.

As the SWAT team entered the West End home, a table covered with powered drugs was overturned, sending what authorities believed to be a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl wafting into the air, according to a criminal complaint.

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Pittsburgh police say they've taken two juveniles into custody for throwing rocks onto vehicles from an overpass above Route 65.

Several vehicles called 911 to report their cars being hit with rocks or other items about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

One motorist says cars were forced to slow down because of a broom left in one lane of travel. It's not immediately clear if the youths who threw the rocks also threw the broom or placed it there so cars would slow down and become easier targets.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

In a public hearing this week, dozens of advocates spoke to Pittsburgh City Council about what legal distinction would come from declaring itself a "Sanctuary City" legislation. Pittsburgh is not a sanctuary city, and Councilman Dan Gilman has said that label doesn't matter as much as the city's actions.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

During a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting Tuesday, public safety officials called on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign legislation that would allow officers more latitude in using their body cameras.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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