Cops: Ex-Duquesne basketball players involved in South Side fracas |

Cops: Ex-Duquesne basketball players involved in South Side fracas

Tom Davidson

The two men who are charged for their part in a fracas on Pittsburgh’s South Side early Sunday morning are former Duquesne University basketball players.

Pittsburgh police said that two officers were hurt while responding to the incident, which caused a large, unruly crowd to gather.

Tarin A. Smith, 23, of Ocean, N.J., and Eric M. James, 23, of Westerville, Ohio, played hoops together for the Dukes during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 basketball seasons.

James played four years for Duquesne and averaged 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game during his career for the Dukes.

Smith, who transferred from Nebraska and sat out the 2015-16 season, was more successful, and was the Atlantic 10 Sixth Man of the Year in 2017-18 season. After graduating from Duquesne, he played the 2018-19 season as a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, where he earned praise.

Early Sunday morning on East Carson Street, Smith was behind the wheel of a 2015 Mercedes-Benz that was illegally parked on the street at an angle that created a hazard, Pittsburgh police Officer David Blatt wrote in a criminal complaint.

When Blatt approached, Smith ignored him, then started to argue and make “disparaging” comments at Blatt, he wrote in the complaint.

“Smith stated to me, ‘Go ahead and write me a ticket. I’ll pay for it. It’s worth more than you are,’ ” Blatt wrote in the complaint.

Smith then drove over Blatt’s left foot, pinning it to the street, and he “just stared at me as other officers were trying to get him out of the vehicle,” Blatt wrote.

A female passenger in the car got out and became a part of the escalating altercation. While police were dealing with her, James approached while they were handcuffing Smith, police said.

James, ignoring orders from police and pleas from friends, approached to ask police what was going on, according to a criminal complaint.

“It was clear to me that James was trying to interfere with the incident and/or distract me,” Blatt wrote. “I then attempted to handcuff James, but he began resisting, stiffening up and raising his hands in the air.”

After a struggle involving multiple officers, James was also taken into custody.

“It should be noted that Eric James is 6’5” with a large and athletic build,” Blatt wrote.

Smith was listed at 6’3” and 185 pounds when he played for UConn, according to its website.

Smith was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, obstruction, reckless driving and reckless endangering. He posted $10,000 bail through a bondsman.

Smith’s father told the Tribune-Review his son wasn’t at his New Jersey home on Monday and they were still learning the details about what happened.

James was charged with resisting arrest, failure to disperse and obstruction. He was released on his own recognizance.

James could not be reached for comment.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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