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Update to the Pittsburgh police beating/tazing

Apr 11, 2011, 2:57 PM EDT

Pittsburgh beating.bmp

In the wake of that video we posted earlier of the guy getting beaten and the tazed by police at PNC Park in Saturday — posted again below for your convenience — the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Big League Stew) has tracked down the police report and has comments from the Pittsburgh Police Department:

“We both feared for our safety,” city detective Francis Rende wrote in a criminal complaint filed yesterday. The other officer named is Lebella, but no first name is given.

City police spokeswoman Diane Richard declined comment through an e-mail saying she had not reviewed the police reports. Police had to intervene because the man appeared to be drunk, bothered fans in his section and belligerently refused to cooperate with PNC Park staff who asked him to leave, team spokesman Brian Warecki said … “We were being surrounded by the drunked fans and finally got the actor up and took him to the security office,” Rende wrote. “All the while facing the wrath of a very hostile crowd.”

Like I said this morning, you can’t necessarily judge what went down just by watching the video. At the same time, as many commenters said earlier, it does seem like a rather … unorthodox way to take down a belligerent suspect.  The tazer seemed to hit the guys jacket, not the guy himself. The first hit with the club was then met with … nothing, as if they were waiting to see what the guy would do. If the crowd was getting hostile and unruly, it probably had something to do with the fact that the police didn’t seem to have total control of the situation for a good while.  It was just odd.

I’ll leave it to independent law enforcement experts to say whether this situation was handled correctly, but at least we have more information now.

  1. steve keane - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Saturday April 9th 9:51 PM I was working the drunk tank out PNC Park my name is Friday my partners name is Gannon………………….

    • phillyhomer - Apr 11, 2011 at 8:00 PM

      USA! USA! USA!

  2. heynerdlinger - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I think the only one who handled things correctly was the kid working security for the Pirates who backed away from the altercation and let the police take over instead of getting into a fistfight with drunk-o.

    • bradwins - Apr 11, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      What about the guy with the camera? He proved equally competent.

  3. mercyflush - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    those cops are the worst. how do you taze improperly? or not take the guy out right away with the night stick?

    they need some more training.

  4. baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    They feared for their safety? Bullshit. That’s a convenient excuse to protect their asses legally. Luckily, the video is out there to prove exactly how stupid that statement really is. God forbid if these cops are ever put in a situation where there’s a real threat.

    If these guys thought a guy standing still was a threat, then they obviously should not be trusted in a position that holds authority over others.

  5. The Baseball Idiot - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I remember back in the day, when I worked security for a major league team, my partner and I got in a lot of trouble for beating the shit out of two guys in the stands. They said we used excessive force and it was unnecessary to resort to that in order to solve the problem. We were about to get fired and possibly even prosecuted.

    Then we made them watch the videotape, which showed two guys over 6’3″ who were mean drunk get into an argument with a guy, hit him, and then push his 7-months pregnant wife down a flight of steps. All of sudden, we weren’t such jerks and assholes.

    Until you know what happened, you don’t know enough to call out the police on this. They might be wrong. They might right. But you don’t know.

    You’re making a lot of judgements about something you don’t know anything about.

    • Utley's Hair - Apr 11, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      Precisely what I was saying on the other post.

      • kellyb9 - Apr 11, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        Agreed Mr. Hair. I’m not really going to pass judgement on the cops yet before knowing the facts, but after going to my share of Phillies games, you have to be a real dbag to get kicked out of a game.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:20 PM

        Absolutely, but I’m also not letting the cops off on this until the force is justified, which we don’t know yet. Until then, both parties are in that legal gray area. There needs to be an investigation—and not by string-‘em-up-and-figure-it-out-later interwebs unknowns like notdumb and baseballstars.

      • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:17 PM

        You’re a moron if you actually believe I don’t think there should be an investigation here. Something may come out of this to prove the cops were right. However, with what we have to go on, I feel differently. It’s ok to come out of your ivory tower every now and then. Be consistent in your non-judgmentalism. Otherwise, you’re simply a hypocrite.

      • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM

        Too add further, this isn’t a test of Kohlberg’s Moral Stages. This is a legal issue. We have clear separation of powers in this country. It’s not the job of the executive branch to judge and implement punishment. This guy was cooperating with the cops. What happened before is irrelevant, unless he was being contrary and not heeding to the cops’ instructions (for instance, he was walking away from an exit, not towards). That is something that may change my mind… a little. The over-excessive use of force is not going to be explained by “feeling threatened.” We have a lot more information to go on. It’s not like we have to withhold judgment until eternity because we weren’t there or will never know the truth. The cops have a responsibility that goes with their jobs. Beating someone in this manner who posed no threat and who was complying (unless info comes out to the contrary) is not part of that responsibility. We don’t want to get to the point where this type of behavior from cops is justified, or else frankvzappa will be right – we will be living in a Fascist state.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        I am simply basing my comment on what you have said, nothing more. You appear to be basing your opinion on what you see in the video, nothing more, despite the fact that there is more to the incident that has NOT been released. So, when you look at it, I’m being as judgmental of you as you are of the police officers in question.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:53 PM

        “We have a lot more information to go on. It’s not like we have to withhold judgment until eternity because we weren’t there or will never know the truth.”

        No, we don’t. We only have the information presented in a friggin’ YouTube video taken by some schlub at a game. Who knows? It may have been frankvzappa for all we know, trying to forward his anarchist agenda—’cause, ya know, those things could be edited.

        And an eternity? Please. God forbid we take more than two friggin’ days to launch an investigation into this. Let’s give the police officers their due process, too. If it’s found that they did, in fact, act outside the law, then they deserve what’s coming to them. If not, don’t hang ‘em for doing their jobs and protecting the public and themselves, for God’s sake. These guys put their lives on the line every damn day to protect the public. And, as the Baseball Idiot pointed out, hundreds of police officers are cut down while doing that very job, so they do deserve a fair investigation.

      • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:47 PM

        First, I apologize for calling you a moron. I took exception to the fact that you put words in my mouth and completely distorted my opinion, which was wrong.

        Just because some police officers are unfortunately killed on the job does not give them the right to use excessive force on everyone. The situation determines whether or not to use excessive force. In this incident, a person in the crowd high-fived the suspect, and an usher tried to block the act. That’s what started this whole thing off. The suspect threw an elbow. Stupid, but the incident was over right after that. Both parties moved away from each other. It was at this time that police engaged their tazers. Suspect moves forward, stops. He’s holding a cooler in one hand, and the other is by his side. Police takes the baton and hit suspect in the shoulder/collarbone/chest area. Second strike is at suspect’s HEAD. Finally, the police use their training and go for the knees.

        To say the only evidence we have is the video is folly. Do you even know the thread you are posting in? There’s a police response/report up there. Check it out. The official response is that these officers felt threatened. You are completely wrong in saying the only evidence we have is the video.

        Being a policeman/woman is a dangerous profession. That does not give them the right to overstep their duties and be rash and abusive to people who pose no threat. I find it hilarious and sad that anyone would defend the police’s actions in this video as self-defense.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:30 PM

        Read the report of the complaint and watch the video again. According to that report (up there at the link), he elbowed and then threatened the usher, saying that he would kill him if he ever saw him again (terroristic threat, anyone?), at which time, he is Tased, to no avail. He then stops, and says something unclear to the police officer that obviously antagonized the situation. After that, he clearly yanks at the Taser line, quite probably trying to yank the device away from the police officer (resisting arrest)—but then, again, I don’t know, since I was not there. Then, he starts to walk away, and was followed by the police, who take him down and subdue him. At NO time is he compliant with the orders of the police.

        And I didn’t place any words in your mouth. Again, I was basing that comment on what you yourself had posted in various replies. You have since softened your comments—a bit, anyway—which I applaud, but at the time, you were convicting the police officers without any investigation.

      • baseballstars - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:07 AM

        I’ve watched the video numerous times, and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’ve also consulted with some police officers who say they are trained to subdue a suspect in this situation by striking the legs/back of knees, as the secondary officers did. The officer closest to the camera clearly struck above the waist at least twice, once directly at the head (and the first blow was very close). That can be determined as using “deadly force,” though I wouldn’t describe it as such. If anyone is acting out of self-defense here, it is the suspect, as he had done nothing to warrant the overreaction by the cops. LOL @ calling what he (reportedly) said as a “terrorist threat.” Now you’re really stretching. You said at no time was he compliant with the cops… as if you know everything that was going on in the incident. That’s either hypocritical of your non-judgmental, we-can’t-judge-because-we-don’t-know stance, or you’ve changed from your previous stance.

        I never said anything about “stringing them (police) up,” so yes, you absolutely were putting words in my mouth, something someone does to try to mislead and lessen another person’s position.

    • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 4:51 PM

      What happened before this isn’t the real issue. For all we know, the guy could be innocent. What is apparent is that a guy is being escorted out, is willingly cooperating, stops to get high fives, and (stupidly) elbows a guy who looks to be an usher. Dumb move. However, he keeps walking, that little incident ends, then the cops say something to him. He pauses and doesn’t move. The cops then start hitting him with a baton, though he is posing no physical threat to them. They try to tazer him, and fail. He then willfully gets down and puts his hands behind his back.

      To say we don’t know anything about this incident is just plain wrong. The video is there. He was leaving. He was complying. Cops don’t have the right to beat the hell out of someone just because they don’t like what the suspect says.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        It has everything to do with what happed before. What if he hit a woman, what if he was trying to diddle a little kid, what if he already hit someone, what if he was threatening to kill someone?

        Everything that happened before is relevant. It didn’t start when the cops brought him down the steps.

        It started with another fan making a complaint to an usher (at least one), a warning, a call to the stadium security (at least one more warning) and then a call to the cops (serious incident) and removing him from his seat (very serious incident). Everything that happened before, whether for or against the cops, or for or against the guy, counts.

        That’s like saying Jesse James was never a criminal just because he didn’t get caught.

      • bradwins - Apr 11, 2011 at 6:26 PM

        No. Actually what happened before is completely and utterly irrelevant. It is not the job of the police to deliver punishment. That duty is reserved for a judge and/or jury. If the guy did something that warranted his removal from the stadium (and we really don’t know that he did based on the video), the job of the police at that point is to remove the guy from the stadium. Tazing and beating the guy did not appear to be required in order to remove the guy. He was just standing there. The cops lost their cool and use unnecessary force, and as a result they should lose their jobs. What happened prior to the video is not in any way relevant, because no matter what the guy did before, it did not justify the use of force seen on the video. It was gratuitous and a complete abuse of authority. Cops can’t start beating and tazing people whenever they get pissed off. And if the suspect is cooperating, cops cannot use more force than is necessary to place him under arrest, regardless of what he did to cause the arrest.

      • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:10 PM

        bradwins is exactly right. The cops aren’t supposed to beat down a non-threatening, complying person because of what he did before. That’s not their duty, the separation of power in this country clearly gives the power to enforce punishment to the judicial branch. This guy was apprehended and compliant. Cops aren’t supposed to be vigilantes. Excellent reply, bradwins.

    • bleedgreen - Apr 11, 2011 at 7:27 PM

      I dunno. If you hit someone with a club, and they don’t retaliate, which this guy didn’t, why do you hit him again? You should use the least amount of force necessary. This guy wasn’t resisting. He wasn’t running. He wasn’t trying to fight back. He was tazed improperly. He was hit in the chest, and in the head. If you’re trying to take a suspect to the ground in order to apply cuffs/restraints, wouldn’t you go for the knee? Seems the cops did that… after the 3rd or 4th blow to the inappropriate body area. The cops seem inept and didn’t wanna look like toolbags that they couldn’t taze and couldn’t figure out how to properly take a suspect into custody, so they let loose with the clubs.

  6. The Baseball Idiot - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I remember back in the day, when I worked security for a major league team, my partner and I got in a lot of trouble for beating the shit out of two guys in the stands. They said we used excessive force and it was unnecessary to resort to that in order to solve the problem. We were about to get fired and possibly even prosecuted.

    Then we made them watch the videotape, which showed two guys over 6’3″ who were mean drunk get into an argument with a guy, hit him, and then push his 7-months pregnant wife down a flight of steps. All of sudden, we weren’t such jerks and assholes.

    Until you know what happened, you don’t know enough to call out the police on this. They might be wrong. They might right. But you don’t know.

    You’re making a lot of judgements about something you don’t know anything about.

  7. senatorsguy - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    While there is no evidence he threatened the cop, he did just throw a forearm at a stadium staffer. If he follows that up with a verbal threat to the cop, that cop has every reason to fear violence – in which case he got what he deserved. It isn’t fair to judge the cop only from the point where the cop is standing in front of him. They saw a lot more than we did.

  8. Gordon - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Anyone wearing jean shorts is a douchebag. The cops were absolutely correct in whooping his ass. These coops were just not very good at whooping ass.

    • bradwins - Apr 11, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      I agree that anyone wearing jorts is a douchebag. I don’t agree that that is grounds for unprovoked police brutality.

      • Tim's Neighbor - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:09 PM

        Jorts are as good a reason as any to beat someone this side of someone owning a Nickelback album. I’d rather the cops beat a Nickelback fan than a bank robber.

      • cur68 - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:50 PM

        I realize this series of comments is all in fun but this is real person getting hurt. That “as good a reason as any to beat someone” is hand’s down the dumbest comment here. The guy got knocked around; who the hell cares what he’s wearing? More to the point; did he deserve what happened to him? And no, “Jorts” are not a reason, all humor aside. Maybe just pay a bit of lip service to the fact something pretty unfortunate happened before you lean in with that one.

  9. clydeserra - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    That seems like a pretty healthy crowd at PNC.

    Maybe there is hope for the pirates

  10. frankvzappa - Apr 11, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    how anybody in this country can defend the fascist police who make this authoritarian dictatorship possible is beyond me…how can anyone still pretend like this is a free country? incidents like this make the national news on an almost daily basis, but how many incidents are never plastered on your TV screen…thousands of times daily is your answer…cops are out of control, and must be stopped, just like the bankers, politicians, corporations, and lawyers…

    • baseballstars - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      I understand what you are saying, and I definitely think the executive branch is way too big and powerful right now, but you can’t label all cops as bad just because these three have small penises and feel the need to beat up a guy who posed no threat. In a true Fascist state, you’d be arrested for making that post.

      I do think incidents of police brutality are on the rise, and I think a lot of it has to do with war vets becoming policemen and policewomen. But not all police are bad. The vast majority are good.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      http://www.odmp.org/year.php?year=2008

      Approximately 150 cops a year are killed while on duty, with an average of 80 of them being killed by gunshot, stabbing, vehicular pursuit, etc. That includes 30 so far this year, in mid-April.

      Bet you weren’t aware of that number, because I’ll bet you never heard that number anywhere on television or in print. Numbers like this never make the national news. Maybe when criminals stop killing cops, the cops will be a little more tolerant to dumbasses who break the law.

    • clydeserra - Apr 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM

      These cops in this incident are not “out of control.”

      Even if you believe they did the wrong thing and should be fired for it. It does not show these cops, let alone every officer in the country, as maniacs.

      They confronted a guy for unknown reasons. The guy made some poor choices (whatever the incident was that lead the cops there, pushing a PNC Park employee, stopping instead of leaving).

      I am not defending the officers actions, I have no idea if it was the right thing or not. The video, to me, does not support a “right thing” conclusion, but I have very little to go on.

      But please please stop spouting this grand conspiracy stuff. It makes people that legitimately question police tactics sound like whackadoos.

  11. mlenenski - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    If this guy were in Lybia or Syria, they would have shot him in the head with a gun. He’s lucky he lives in the USA. Our cop’s methods may suck sometimes, but they usually don’t kill you. He was too drunk to feel anything anyway.

  12. yankeesgameday - Apr 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    I can’t believe it took me all day to realize that the only response needed to this is… “They drew first blood. Not me.”

  13. sawxalicious - Apr 11, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    A lot of these posts indicate that the drunk guy was being compliant…we can’t tell from the video if the guy is being compliant or not because (to me) it is impossible to tell what the police officer is saying to the guy…if he’s saying turn around and put your hands behind your back, then the guy is being Non-Compliant, and resisting arrest…if that is the case, the officers could be justified in using force necessary to effect a lawful arrest. Officers are trained to use tasers, pepper-spray, baton strikes (to meaty parts of the body) before getting in a wrestling match with arrestees. Wrestling matches usually end up with more injuries to officers and arrestees than the previously mentioned tactics…

    Other factors in play are: 1) the guy is possibly drunk (hard to tell from the video), but it appears likely, making the situation more dangerous, 2) the guy appears pretty hefty and could be a handful in a hands-on confrontation, 3) the crowd could be egging the guy on, 4) the guy showed no effect from the taser (his clothing probably prevented the proper deployment) and was taunting the police officer…

    The cops using the baton on the guy did not seem over the top except for the one strike that appeared to hit the guy in the head (could have actually struck him in the upper body). Once the cops had the guy under control on the ground, they didn’t strike him again…

    Overall, I have to say that I’ve been to a few games where some drunk jagbag has ticked off every one around him and deserved to be pummelled…if the guy in the video is “that guy,” then I’d say he got off pretty lightly…

  14. angrycorgi - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Any idiot can see the one guy was clubbing him fo fun…no real attempt to safely incapacitate him…so much mor fun to just club th crap out of him…i know a drunk dude thats gonna be winning a big settlement…no jury is going to agree with the cops after this video is shown.

    • aaronmoreno - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:11 PM

      You’re going to win a big settlement?

  15. mashoaf - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    It’s like the Cal Berkley Student not leaving the library case. As terrible as it looks the guy was still criminally trespassing by not leaving after being told to leave. While being escorted he attempted to get into a fight, which is why the officers tasered him right on the spot. Hence why he was not moving. The officer’s where not the brightest by hitting him in the head after he did not go down with the tasers. But to their credit the guy did not go down very easily at all, even with the swings to the back of his legs.

  16. mk2323 - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    Watching that video makes me wanna drive around and listen to some N.W.A

  17. teachmehowtodickey - Apr 12, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    fuck the police. i bet that made the officer feel like a real man. what a joke

  18. larryhockett - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    I don’t like anything about this. I don’t like drunk a-holes being beligerant at ballgames and I don’t like cops who wield authority as though their manhood depends on it.

  19. doxiedaddy - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Those cops are pussies, and swing their girlie sticks like fags. They should tase each other on their private parts.

  20. purdueman - Apr 13, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    I think that all of us at what time or another have been stuck in a section of a stadium with fatass drunken loud mouth who the more he drinks, the more he likes to throw his weight around, potty mouth, bully and intimidate people and become the center of attention as the section class clown.

    In just watching the video, this butterball certainly fits to MO. It’s just too bad that the police didn’t score more of a direct hit on his big fat mouth and give him something really to remember him by by knocking out half his teeth. I hope that PNC Park bans this guy from Pirates games for life and this guy winds up picking trash off the highway for the next several months to come.

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