PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, many people flocked to the city to enjoy the festivities. But as is the holiday tradition, some of those visitors were enjoying a few alcoholic beverages.
A small group of men had an altercation with the Pittsburgh police that day, resulting with a video exposing the officer performing, what could possibly be perceived as excessive force towards one of the men.
This video has become viral in the news-world, as questions arise as to what should be considered as excessive force.
KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek spoke with the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Police Review Board, Beth Pittinger, on what kind of force is too much. Mike asks that if a man falls as hard as it appears in the video, did the officer use excessive force? He also suggests that the suspect might have been acting because he knew that his friend was filming.
“The officer’s conduct is where he is at fault. He brandished his Taser, admittedly, to scare the man,” said Pittinger. “The man could even argue that the officer was impeding on his freedom of speech by using official oppression.”
The two also began discussing Marty Griffin’s breaking news story about a man who claims he was beaten by multiple police officers.
Pittinger explains that this story is still being investigated, and to her knowledge, not much is known on the identity of the officers. She explains that police officers have the responsibility to gain control of every situation and remain in control until the conflict has ended.
“In this situation maybe a Taser would have helped to subdue the suspect,” said Pittinger. “But if he was pushed around and kicked by the officers, then that’s a whole different story.”
When you add alcohol to an already aggressive person, the situation escalates faster and more intense than it should have. Sometimes officers do need to use restraining force for the protection of themselves and others. A question came from a Dollar Bank Instant Access listener addressing this description.
“We shouldn’t be telling police officers that even a little bit of force is too much. What about the drunks leaving the bar, heading for their cars to drive home, where they could potentially cause a car accident?” she said. “What’s next, telling them to use pink-furry handcuffs? Some force is necessary to stop further injuries.”
While Pittinger agrees that some drunks are difficult to handle, she begins to wonder if maybe those that are being hired as police officers are being hired under the wrong pretenses.
She believes that police need to be trained in personal skills as well as the technical and physical aspect of the job. The police have the authority to respectfully interact with all types of people, even if they’re hostile in response.
“We need to look at who we are hiring and make sure that we consider all officers for every aspect of the job,” said Pittinger. “Not just brawn over brains.”
The two agree that the officer might not have used his Taser or even intended to use it on the suspect. But the reality is that he did plan on using the Taser as a scare-tactic to control the situation. Now the question comes, is that excessive force?
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