PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A man has been in the Allegheny County Jail since his arrest in September by police in Millvale, and now a video has surfaced that the suspect’s family and one lawyer says raises questions about how police conducted themselves at the time of his arrest.
In the video, 27-year-old Thomas J. Smith, of Millvale, is handcuffed and sitting on the floor, apparently inside the Millvale Police Station.
He’s seen in the video first striking his head repeatedly and then moments later, while still handcuffed, a police officer is seen using a Taser on him.
“Here’s a young man who I later learned and appears to have some mental health issues, and I’ve learned from the family has a history of mental health problems, and he never posed a threat to anybody else,” said attorney David Shrager. “He kept banging his head. There was kind of a jovial flavor of the room, and then they try to stop him. He went to bang his head again, and they tased him.”
Shrager first became aware of the video when, as he told KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti, someone emailed it to him anonymously.
Later, he was contacted by Smith’s family who asked him to speak on their behalf.
“It’s easy to armchair quarterback people, and I get that, and people have to make split second decisions, but in light of the entire part that I found; I did find it to be disturbing,” said Shrager.
Smith now faces charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, aggravated harassment by a prisoner and public intoxication. His formal arraignment is set for Jan. 25.
KDKA attempted to get a comment from Millvale Police about the incident but had no luck.
Smith’s mother didn’t want to do a television interview; however, she told KDKA she is very upset by what happened.