Friday, February 6, 2015

Police Brutality? It sure looks that way....


After all of the idiots pushing for uproars in Ferguson and Sanford over literally no inappropriate acts committed. One has to wonder just why in the hell nothing is being said about this incident. This has ALL of the elements that hate mongers like Al Sharpton and Eric Holder dream about. So where is the outrage? Was the black dude a republican or something? Wut?

Officers who beat man within seconds of approach still on regular duty

By Rachel Martin |

PITTSBURGH — Two Pittsburgh police officers remain on active duty months after they were caught on video beating a man with batons soon after they arrived on the scene at a halfway house.

“Force should be a last resort,” said Scott Westcott, the lawyer representing Lonnie Jenkins, the man who allegedly was attacked by the officers.

Jenkins was a resident at a halfway house in downtown Pittsburgh when the arrest occurred last August. The video shows that officers approach Jenkins and almost immediately push him against a wall and start hitting him with retractable batons. The whole incident was caught on camera.

Officials have defended the officers’ behavior, but multiple investigations are ongoing.

“We looked at this video, believe me we looked at it numerous times, and we do not see anything inappropriate or wrong at this time,” said Maurita Bryant, assistant chief of investigations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Beth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizens Police Review Board, isn’t so sure.

“Police appear to have escalated the situation, instead of de-escalating. Visually, (Jenkins) appeared to just be standing against a doorjamb,” Pittinger told

But “context is very critical,” she said.

“Obviously there’s a lot we don’t know about the situation, which is why we opened the investigation.”

Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler confirmed to the two officers seen in the video striking the man remain on routine duty while the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations conducts its investigation.

Screenshot of video by Channel 11
HALLWAY BEATING: Pittsburgh Police officers Brian Wissner and James Zigarella allegedly struck Lonnie Jenkins 17 times with retractable batons last August. They remain on normal duty during the investigation.
“Despite the bureau’s position that the use of force was justified, the bureau has asked OMI to review the matter,” Toler said.

Westcott said he and his client expected to meet Wednesday with the FBI.

Westcott disagreed with the decision to leave the officers on duty.

“When there’s clear evidence that excessive force was used, officers should be on restricted duty, even during the investigation,” he said. “It’s the right message to send to the community, that they are not rushing to judgment that they support the officers.”

According to the Post-Gazette, “police said they told Jenkins he was under arrest and gave him orders to put his hands behind his back. Officer Wissner wrote that Jenkins lunged ‘suddenly and aggressively’ so he ‘shoved’ Jenkins into the opposite wall, at which point Jenkins put his right hand in a closed fist ‘in an attempt to punch me’ but was stopped by Officer James Zigarella.”

This aggressive lunge isn’t apparent in the video. What is apparent is that the two officers hit Jenkins a combined 17 times.

“All use of force is reviewed by supervisors following the use of force incident,” Toler said. “This matter was reviewed by supervisors in August and there were no issues of concern about the conduct of the officers involved.”

It is not clear whether those supervisors were in possession of the video.

The video was made public in late January. Even Jenkins’ family had some doubts about his story, until they saw the video,Pittsburgh’s Channel 11 reported.

“He was beat down,” said his mother, Yvonne Shannon. “They came around the corner, and they didn’t even stop to ask him what his name was.”

Westcott concurred.

“They came in in an aggressive manner … they gave him no time,” Westcott said. “This escalated very quickly.”

On the video, it appears to take only seconds between the time the first officer reached Jenkins and when the first blow landed. That doesn’t seem to allow for a lot of time to resolve the situation before resorting to force, but Toler said the lack of audio “inhibits the ability to fully comprehend what transpired.”

In addition to the question of whether it was legal for officers to behave the way they did, Pittinger said officers need to evaluation whether situations can be handled in a different way.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” she said. “And that’s a training issue.”

Pittinger said her organization has been working with the Black Political Empowerment Project, American Civil Liberties Union and local police officers to develop materials about the “rights, responsibilities and realities” of police searches.

“We need to get this practical information into the hands of people that may need it,” she said.

Westcott said he does not usually handle civil lawsuits against the police, but that he’s “talked with high-profile attorneys in the area who are very interested in the case. … I am sure the family and Mr. Jenkins will be pursuing this.”

He said that, with the city’s hiring of a new police chief last year, he was hoping for a change in the department. Police Chief Cameron McLay has spoken about “restor(ing) the legitimacy of the police bureau.

“Is this lip service or not?” Westcott asked.
Neither officer could be reached for comment, and McLay did not immediately return a call for comment.

Martin can be reached at, and follow her @RMartinWatchdog for more.


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