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Allegheny

Jury acquits Pittsburgh officer charged with pointing gun at citizen in 2017 'road rage' case

Natasha Lindstrom
| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, 9:51 p.m.
Robert Kramer during a graduation ceremony for Pittsburgh police recruits in February 2014.
Robert Kramer during a graduation ceremony for Pittsburgh police recruits in February 2014.

A jury on Thursday found a Pittsburgh police officer not guilty of assaulting a citizen during a so-called “road rage” incident in the city’s Sheraden neighborhood last year.

Robert Carl Kramer, 29, was acquitted on one charge of simple assault after a brief deliberation by jurors in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. The trial began on Tuesday, court records show.

Prosecutors had charged Kramer last August after a man said Kramer pointed a gun at him and made him fear for his life during a traffic stop on May 3, 2017.

Kramer, who became an officer in 2014, denied the assault ever happened. Officials placed him on administrative leave amid an internal investigation.

Pittsburgh police could not immediately be reached to comment on Kramer’s current employment status.

According to the criminal complaint that led to the assault charge, a man driving a white Dodge sports utility vehicle in Sheraden told police that when he stopped in a turning lane, a black Mercedes Benz with tinted windows pulled up alongside him.

The driver of the Mercedes, later identified as Kramer, started to argue with the SUV driver about speeding and reckless driving in a nearby school zone where the speed limit is 15 mph, the complaint said.

Kramer accused the SUV driver of starting an argument and acting aggressively, according to the complaint.

The SUV driver told police that Kramer pointed a gun at him. He told investigators he was “looking down the barrel of the silver revolver with a short barrel, with bullets in the chamber.”

The driver said he asked the officer to get out of the car, prompting Kramer to speed off.

When confronted by investigators, Kramer denied owning a silver revolver, but police later found a sales record showing he did and found a loaded Smith & Wesson silver firearm when they served a search warrant on his home last July, the complaint said.

Blaine Jones, attorney for Kramer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

A second Pittsburgh police officer, Kaelen T. O’Connor, also was placed on leave and charged with obstructing justice and hindering apprehension or prosecution in connection to the case. Prosecutors said that when O’Connor looked into the driver’s 911 call about the incident, he filed a report that excluded all information about Kramer and listed the suspect as “unknown.”

William Difenderfer, attorney for O’Connor, could immediately not be reached. He previously dismissed O’Connor’s actions as “careless” at best.

Court records indicate that O’Connor is scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial conference Oct. 5.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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