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Rookie Pittsburgh cop fired after off-duty argument with Swissvale officer captured on video

Tony LaRussa
| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, 11:33 a.m.

A Pittsburgh police officer on the job for less than six months has been fired after getting into an off-duty argument with a Swissvale police officer, according to published reports.

Video from a cell phone shows the confrontation between officer Sidney Bates, 25, and an unidentified police officer from Swissvale in which she repeatedly asked for Bates’ identification.

The officer requested the ID after Bates stopped his car to help a woman unload groceries, according to Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV .

Bates was sworn in as a Pittsburgh police officer in May.

Bates’ lawyer, Blaine Jones, said his client was fired without ever speaking to a representative from the city or the police department.

“Sidney has never spoken to anyone in command,” Jones said. “He’s never spoken to anyone with the city. If a person is being terminated, the least you can do is call that person and give them an explanation or bring them in and say, ‘This is why you’re being terminated.’ None of that was done.”

Jones said Bates got a telephone call late Friday night requesting that he turn in his badge. The call was followed by a letter of termination that was delivered on Saturday.

A Pittsburgh police spokesman confirmed that Bates no longer works for the city but he would not provide additional comment because it is a personnel matter.

Jones questions whether the confrontation with the Swissvale officer rises to the level of something that should result in termination.

“When you look at the video, is this a fireable offense?” Jones said. “I mean, in the end, he was charged with a non-traffic summary offense. Think about that. A summary offense. What happened to due process? What happened to ‘you’re innocent until, if ever, proven guilty?’”

Despite Bates’ treatment by the department he still want to serve on the police force, Jones said.

“He wants to put all of that to the side,” Jones said. “He’s worn that badge. It’s his lifelong dream.”

Bates plans to file a grievance against the city to try to get his job back and will seek an explanation of why he was fired, Jones said.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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