PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A former Pittsburgh police sergeant will spend 27 months in prison for a fight with a fan outside Heinz Field two years ago.
Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was in court Wednesday for sentencing. A jury had previously found him guilty of violating the subject’s civil rights by use of excessive force.
The victim’s mother took the stand during the hearing and asked for Matakovich to be sent to prison.
“It’s hard watching your son being beaten like that. We teach our children to respect police officers then this happens and I think it’s just a blemish on the Pittsburgh police, on all police,” Sherry Despres said.
Matakovich asked for leniency saying he wanted to be present for his two daughters.
Matakovich’s defense attorneys had argued against imprisonment, saying he had led an “honorable and lawful life.”
But the pre-sentence report detailed a pattern of questionable arrests involving Matakovich over several years, and states that he “never used the lowest amount of force available.”
In 56 cases of arrests involving some resistance, 20 involved Matakovich using closed fist strikes to the head and face, and of those, 17 resulted in injuries to the subject such as a “broken nose, broken jaw, or being knocked unconscious.”
“There’s no joy in the sentence but we thought it was an aggravated case for a number of reasons. Aggravated because of the obstructive conduct and aggravated because of the potential consequences to the victim,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song.
There were 34 complaints filed against him at the Office of Municipal Investigations. Eleven being complaints by citizens alleging use of excessive force. The substantiated claims involved allegations of excessive force, false arrest and failing to report the use of a Taser.
Matakovich was also ordered to pay restitution. His lawyer asked the judge that he get to serve his sentence at a prison close to Pittsburgh. The judge granted that request.
Acting U.S Attorney Song said Matakovich will likely have to self report to the United States Marshals in the next four to six weeks then head to prison.