Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto has ordered an investigation after a viral video has emerged showing an officer using excessive force when body slamming a sports fan at the National League wildcard game on October 7th. The video shows a fan in a goat-shaped hat, approaching an officer and asking to speak with him. Suddenly, the officer places the victim in a choke hold and tosses him to the ground with the full force of his body. Audio is recorded of a second officer demanding that the person taking the video “put the phone down” while horrified onlookers cried out to the officer to stop. The Office of Municipal Investigations will conduct an investigation at the mayor’s behest.
The victim, Dimitry Mitalas, had been asked to leave the game following a verbal altercation with another fan in the stands. Mitalas then approached an officer in the concourse to discuss the incident. According to reports, the officer was not aware of the altercation in the stands when he refused to speak to Mr. Mitalas and subsequently placed him in a chokehold.
It is also unclear if the bystander taking the video was assaulted by a second officer, as the camera jerks around and shouting is heard. The viral video jumps to the perspective of another camera, presumably held by a third party, showing Mr. Mitalas thrown to the ground and subsequently handcuffed.
According to ABC-7, Mitalas was never charged with a crime.
The victim explained to Sports Mockery, an online sports tribunal, that he was assaulted by a Pirates fan after being featured on the tele-feed in his billy goat hat – a nod to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat.” The Pirates fan threw a cup full of chewing tobacco waste at Mr. Mitalas’s head, resulting in the altercation that got him booted from the game.
Mayor Bill Peduto gave a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying “videos never look good. But that does not warrant judgement. What warrants judgement is the investigation itself.”
The Pittsburgh police department has not released a statement in response to the allegations of police brutality, nor released the identity of the officer in the video. However, Officer Howard McQuillan of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 told the Washington Post that there was likely more to the story. He alleged, contrary to the video evidence that the victim didn’t comply with police orders. He further averred that had he, nothing would have happened to him. Again, with apparent disregard of the excessive force exhibited in the video footage, he stated that “If it was something egregious, it would be one thing. But there’s nothing wrong with what [the officer] did. The guy is actively resisting. [The officer] didn’t smash his head into the ground or anything like that. He took him down to the ground and once he did, he put the cuffs on him and that was it.”
The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff has over 20 years of experience in fighting for the rights of those who were subject to excessive force or police brutality. If you or a loved one was injured or assaulted by a police officer, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call our offices at (212) 962-1020 or toll free at (877) 675-4529 for a free consultation about your case.