Anonymous video raises Taser concerns
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Tuesday his office will review video of Millvale police shooting a man with a stun gun in September while he was in custody and handcuffed.
“We'll take a look at it,” said Zappala, adding that he wants to be sure he has a full, unedited version of the video.
The video was anonymously sent to David Schrager, a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer.
The 52-second video shows a man whom Schrager identifies as Thomas Jason Smith, 27 of Millvale, handcuffed and beating his head against furniture as he rocks back and forth on his knees.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Smith was arrested for fighting and, once in custody, tried to kick and spit at police officers.
The video shows police officers and EMS personnel laughing in the background shortly before Smith is shot with Taser probes.
“I realize that people have to make split-second decisions. I would call this, at best, disturbing. There is a young man who clearly suffers from issues and is banging his head against furniture. It seems like there certainly was a better way to handle the situation,” Schrager said.
Millvale Mayor Vincent F. Cinski, who oversees the borough's 10-member police department, declined to comment, citing the possibility of litigation.
Millvale police Chief Derek Miller did not return phone calls.
Police arrested Smith on charges of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness on Sept. 21. He is also charged with aggravated harassment by a prisoner, a felony. He was released from jail in November and arrested again that same month on drug and weapons charges. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail and has a hearing scheduled for Jan. 25.
Zappala said no department in the county is permitted to use Tasers without a policy governing their use and without training.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Grand jury report says Western Psych failed to cooperate with police
- Approval for Wal-Mart closer in McCandless
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- UPMC, Pittsburgh drop tax-status fight
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion
- Evacuees return to Young Hotel apartments in Pitcairn
- Newsmaker: Kevin Hogan
- Squirrel Hill Tunnel workers cope with speeders, exhaust fumes
- Emails show Allegheny County Council staff investigated potential snooping
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- Allegheny County alert system expands to public works, health