DA to reduce charges against brothers in fight
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala plans to reduce the charges against two Homewood brothers accused of fighting with police officers because a video of the incident shows a different story, his spokesman said on Friday.
“The changes reflect what we believe happened,” said spokesman Mike Manko. He declined further comment.
Pittsburgh police charged brothers Will El, 22, and Beyshaud El, 19, with aggravated assault against an officer for allegedly fighting with two officers on July 2 outside a convenience store at Fletcher and Fielding ways in Homewood. An officer had stopped them to request identification to determine whether they were old enough to buy the tobacco products they had just purchased at the store, police said at the time.
In a letter dated Feb. 11 to acting police Chief Regina McDonald, Public Safety Director Michael Huss, U.S. Attorney David Hickton and attorneys representing the brothers, Zappala said he reviewed a video taken from the dashboard camera of a nearby police car and had some concerns with how it contradicted the officers' accounts.
His office will reduce the charge against Beyshaud El to harassment and drop the charge against Will El.
McDonald did not return calls and Zone 5 Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor declined comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office acknowledged receipt of Zappala's letter but declined comment.
In a letter, Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project, a civil rights organization, told Zappala and local public safety officials, “This is not ‘the American way.' This is not the manner in which we want our Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to operate.”
The video shows the brothers sitting on the steps of a building while three Zone 5 officers stand nearby. Officer Frank Welling is seen putting on black gloves and then slamming Will El against a wall. Beyshaud El stands up and another officer uses a Taser on him until he's unconscious.
In July, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said the officers' use of force was “triggered by the aggressive actions of the actors, one who disregarded the instructions to remain seated, for officer and public safety reasons, and the other who subsequently physically attacked an officer who attempted to return his brother to a seated position.”
The brothers were released the day after their arrest without bond. Beyshaud El is scheduled to stand trial March 5 on the harassment charge.
“Those two kids were just walking down the street out of the store when the police came up on them,” said M. Celeste Whiteford Robertson, a Downtown attorney who represents Beyshaud El. “They didn't do anything wrong, and this happened to them.”
Earlier this month, police arrested their mother, Medina El, 39, an Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families caseworker, for possessing drugs and carrying a gun without a license.
A judge on Friday reduced her bail to zero from $100,000 when her attorney, Sumner L. Parker, produced documents showing she had a license to carry the gun. She was suspended from her job without pay. No one from the El family could be reached on Friday.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or 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.
- Amid tears, but with resolve, Oakmont church members vow to rebuild from fire
- Pitt professor’s UV technology destined for Mars in 2020
- Teachers’ roles evolve as districts rely more on computers
- Legally blind Pirates fan hangs on every play, has kept score for decades
- Squirrel Hill pantry volunteer’s donation eases struggles for families
- Health department sets 1st of 13 public meetings
- Duquesne Light hires new operations vice president
- Medical research labs pinched by falling federal funding
- Photo Gallery: Junior Great Race
- Water service restored to CMU campus
- Newsmaker: Prince Matthews