Irwin police chief breaks hand in scuffle

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Irwin police Chief Joseph Pocsatko suffered a broken hand when he punched a North Huntingdon man during a scuffle early Wednesday.

Pocsatko said he was approached by Randolph Steven Piper, 26, in the parking lot of the Irwin police station at about 8:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Piper told Pocsatko that he wanted to file a complaint against a police officer who he saw speeding through a local alley.

While speaking with Piper, Pocsatko said he noticed that Piper's vehicle had tinted windows.

State law prohibits tinted windows that restrict someone from seeing inside a vehicle.

When Piper refused to hand over his identification cards, Pocsatko began the process of running his license plate numbers through the state's vehicle owner registry.

A brief scuffle ensued when Piper reached into his pocket, the chief said.

“I didn't know what he was grabbing, so I smacked it out of his hand. It turned out to be a cell phone,” Pocsatko said.

At that time, Pocsatko attempted to escort Piper into the police station.

“I wanted to get his identification or, at least write down his name and birth date,” Pocsatko said.

Piper grabbed the receiver to the 911 phone that's located in the entryway to the police station, the chief said.

“I was attempting to get the phone out of his hand, when he hit me in the head with it,” Pocsatko said. “He had my shirt clenched in one hand and he was making a fist with the other hand. I thought he was going to punch me, so I defended myself. I punched him a couple times.”

Pocsatko was treated for a broken hand at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg and released.

“It hurts extremely badly,” Pocsatko said.

Piper, who complained of shoulder and head pain, also was treated and released. He was charged with aggravated assault and is being held in Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $10,000 straight bond, according to court records.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or

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