Berlin officer dragged by car saves herself, woman; pushes driver out, hits brakes within feet of pole
A Somerset County police officer responding to a report of domestic violence on Sunday had to stop the alleged victim's moving vehicle as she tried to drive away.
On Tuesday, Berlin Borough police Officer Michelle Piscitella, 36, took the incident in stride as she spoke from her office.
“It was more frightening than anything else. I'm perfectly fine,” she said.
Tammy Berkey, 54, of 569 Pike St., Meadow Lands, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and driving under the influence over the 6:21 p.m. incident with her brother.
Berkey was driving away as Piscitella arrived, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed with Meyersdale District Judge Douglas Bell. Piscitella saw blood on Berkey's face and hands.
She told Berkey paramedics were on the way and to remain seated because of her apparent head injury.
Berkey smelled of alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot and glassy, and her speech was slurred, Piscitella said in the affidavit.
The woman put her car in reverse and attempted to drive away. As Piscitella yelled: “Stop! Berlin Police!,” Berkey drove straight at her, forcing Piscitella to jump out of the way, the officer wrote.
Piscitella placed her hand on the car window and opened the door as the vehicle was moving. She grabbed the steering wheel while Berkey was driving.
Berkey slammed on the brakes and Piscitella pulled her from the vehicle. As the car continued moving toward a utility pole, Piscitella jumped into the driver's seat head-first and pulled the gear shift into park, the affidavit said.
“The car stopped a few feet shy of the utility pole. Otherwise, we probably would not be talking right now,” Piscitella said.
Berkey tried to pull away as Piscitella handcuffed her and placed her under arrest.
The woman was taken to a hospital, where her blood-alcohol level was determined to be 0.28 percent — more than three times the legal threshold for 0.8 percent intoxication level in Pennsylvania,.
Berkey was released on $25,000 unsecured bond.
Piscitella, a police officer for 11 years who has been with the Berlin department for two years, said only one officer is on duty at a time in the borough.
“At minimum, our backup is 12 miles away. It can be frightening at times. You have to love your job,” she said.
On Monday, Piscitella charged Berkey's brother, Craig Foy, 52, of Berlin with aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Foy was arraigned before Bell and placed in the county prison in lieu of $5,000 bond.
Berkey and Foy face preliminary hearings March 14 before Bell.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 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.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game
- Demand for surveillance systems boosts sales for Vector Security
- Weather helps advance work on Forward roads
- Islamic immigration in Europe
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Steelers notebook: Bryant confident in backup Jones if Big Ben can’t play
- Why oust Assad?