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Irwin police chief assaulted

Michael DiVittorio
| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 4:06 a.m.

Irwin police Chief Joe Pocsatko was hospitalized briefly on Wednesday after a North Huntingdon Township man allegedly assaulted him at the borough police station.

Pocsatko said he is expected to miss four to six weeks of work after separating a bone in his right hand while defending himself against 25-year-old Randolph Steven Piper at approximately 8:30 a.m.

The chief said Piper came to the station complaining about speeding motorists and refused to show identification.Pocsatko said when he obtained that information by checking Piper's vehicle's license plate, Piper got too close to him. He was escorted inside the station, where he grabbed a telephone and swung at the chief.

“He did strike me,” Pocsatko said. “He did hit me in the face ... I subdued him myself, then my backup escorted him upstairs because my hand was incapacitated. He didn't know I was a chief, but he knew I was a police officer. I had the uniform on.”

Piper sustained a head injury. The chief and Piper were taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital and released.

Piper was arraigned on aggravated assault charges Wednesday afternoon by North Huntingdon Township Magisterial District Judge Douglas R. Weimer and taken to Westmoreland County Jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 9 a.m.

Pocsatko said he'll consult a specialist for his injury on Thursday to determine if surgery is needed, and will contact Mayor Daniel Rose to see who will be in charge of the department in his absence.

Pocsatko has been an Irwin officer for 15 years and chief for three years.

“I've fought suspects before, but not for awhile,” the chief said. “(No one's come to the station) to challenge me.”

Pocsatko said Piper is from West Virginia, but has a North Huntingdon Township address and a history of assaulting officers.

Part of that history includes being charged by Morgantown, W.Va., police with battery on a police officer and obstructing officers in July 2010, Pocsatko said.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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