Share This Page

Attorney believes video will exonerate councilman in attack

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 12:56 a.m.

A lawyer representing a Cheswick councilman charged with assaulting the fire company president hasn't seen video from a surveillance camera that recorded the Sept. 19 incident, but says he is certain it will prove that his client is innocent and that the wrong man was charged.

Police stand firm, saying they arrested the right man.

Police say a surveillance tape shows Councilman Jonathon Skedel, 57, punched fire department President Joseph Ferrero, 61, when the two encountered each other along Pittsburgh Street.

“Mr. Skedel has been improperly charged with assault,” said attorney Phillip DiLucente, who has been hired along with James Ecker to represent Skedel.

“He was not the aggravator of the incident,” DiLucente said at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “He simply was stating his free speech rights to another person. This person, instead, decided to retaliate and attack Mr. Skedel.”

Springdale police Chief Joe Naviglia said, “I feel that everything was done right. The case was investigated to the best of my ability.”

Naviglia said Bob Heister, Allegheny County assistant district attorney, viewed the video and approved the charges against Skedel.“The evidence is going to stand on its own,” Naviglia said. “That's all I've got to say.”

DiLucente conceded that Skedel made disparaging remarks toward Ferrero but said he did not initiate an assault.

Skedel's comments “might not have been the nicest things in the world, but they were spoken,” DiLucente said.

“Then the alleged victim (Ferrero) is the one who attacks our client,” DiLucente said.

DiLucente claims that Ferrero ran toward Skedel, jumped on his back and knocked him to the ground.

“Mr. Skedel was attacked. He was defending himself,” said DiLucente, adding that his client suffers from a number of medical problems including a brain tumor, a heart condition and back trouble.

Ferrero, responding to DiLucente's remarks, said, “I am confident that the videotape will show how the police made their charges.

“I'm not the one who was charged. I am going to stand by the police report and let the criminal justice system run its due process, and we'll see.

“I haven't seen the videotape myself,” Ferrero said. “I don't need to see it. I know what happened.”

DiLucente said lawyers for Health Star Physical Therapy in Springdale, which he says have the tape, refused a request to allow him or Ecker to view the footage.

But Naviglia said that if Skedel's attorneys want to view the video of the assault, they went to the wrong place.

“He can get it through the district attorney's office,” Naviglia said. “Jimmy Ecker knows what to do.”

“We are completely assured that this tape will exonerate our client,” DiLucente said.

“I'm pretty confident that it won't,” Naviglia said.

Skedel attended the news conference on Friday but was advised by his lawyers not to make any statements.

Tony LaRussa and Tom Yerace are staff writers for Trib Total Media. LaRussa can be reached at (412) 320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com; Yerace can be reached at 724 226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.