PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A former Pittsburgh Police sergeant, accused of using excessive force, has now been indicted by a federal grand jury on several charges.
Critical to the federal grand jury and the two count indictment is the surveillance video showing former Sgt. Stephen Matakovich in an altercation with the man at the stadium.
“The video evidence is fairly important,” says U.S. Attorney David Hickton. “Video evidence in a civil rights case is always important.”
Matakovich has been indicted for falsification of a record and deprivation of civil rights.
“A civil rights deprivation to one citizen is injury and insult to all of us. We all share a common interest in equal treatment under the law,” said Hickton. “I think it’s particularly true when you talk about a police officer who has been entrusted with a badge and a gun. We have the right to expect that they will follow the law.”
Meanwhile, the falsification of record charges allege that Matakovich was not truthful when he told investigators what he said to the 19-year-old in the video.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, commenting on the federal indictment, said: “What the sergeant did that day was wrong.”
Peduto went on to say, “Justice has been served. He has his legal rights as well. We will go through the process.”
The initial charges against Matakovich were dismissed in February at a preliminary hearing. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office re-filed a month later.
Now, it appears as if the feds may take over the case completely. If convicted on both federal counts, Matakovich could spend 30 years in jail.
KDKA’s Marty Griffin spoke with Matakovich, and he proclaimed his innocence.
He told KDKA there’s a lot more to the story than the video. He says he’s ready to tell his story to a federal jury, and he promises to fight to get his job back.
The Pittsburgh Police FOP has released this statement:
“We strongly believe when all facts and circumstances are explained Sgt. Matakovich’s actions will be found reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances known to him at the time he used force during the course of an arrest at Heinz Field.”