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New Kensington man who claimed police brutality arrested again in Pittsburgh

Chuck Biedka
| Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, 1:33 p.m.
Justin Rae Harvey
Allegheny County Jail
Justin Rae Harvey
Justin Harvey of New Kensington leaves the Westmoreland County Courthouse in February after a preliminary hearing on charges of resisting arrest and other other offenses in connection with a police chase in January.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Justin Harvey of New Kensington leaves the Westmoreland County Courthouse in February after a preliminary hearing on charges of resisting arrest and other other offenses in connection with a police chase in January.

The man whose arrest video in New Kensington prompted the suspension and investigation of two police officers is again accused of selling drugs and illegally having a pistol.

Justin Rae Harvey, 41, of Kenneth Avenue, New Kensington, was arrested earlier this month by Point Park University police in Pittsburgh.

Point Park police Chief Jeff Besong said an officer saw Harvey drive through a red light and subsequently arrested him. Point Park officers wear body cameras and the arrest is on video.

Harvey is accused of drug possession and sales, receiving stolen property and carrying a handgun without a license — all felonies — as well as two misdemeanor drug charges, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and two traffic offenses.

According to court records, Harvey posted $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled next month in Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

Excessive force claims in January

Harvey, who is African-American, alleged excessive force was used on him by two white police officers during his arrest in New Kensington in January.

In that case, Harvey is accused of pointing a handgun at Arnold Patrolman Wesley Biricocchi and fighting with other officers, including New Kensington Patrolman Craig Harnish.

A video showing part of the incident was posted on Facebook and caused a social media uproar.

Biricocchi and Harnish were suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation by two county detectives.

In June, Westmoreland County District Attorney John W. Peck Jr. said the case was thoroughly investigated by two retired state troopers, who are now county detectives.

“In this case, there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the police officers were criminal,” Peck said in a statement in June.

Biricocchi, Harnish and their chiefs haven't commented on the situation. Both officers have since returned to duty.

Harvey's attorney at the time, Todd Jonathan Hollis, was considering filing a federal civil rights lawsuit over the incident, but no record of such a suit could be found.

On Tuesday, Hollis said he withdrew from the case for personal reasons. Court records show Hollis withdrew as Harvey's attorney in August.

Harvey still is scheduled for trial in Westmoreland County in December on charges including illegal gun possession, trying to disarm a police officer, resisting arrest, and fleeing and eluding police.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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