3 men charged in connection with North Side gas station assault
“Under no circumstances is it acceptable for anyone, regardless of gender or race, to be assaulted in the way that is depicted in the video, and such behavior will not be tolerated in Allegheny County,” Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said in a statement.
Manko identified the three men as Scott Hill, 50, and Sukhjinder Sadhra, 35, both of whom have Pittsburgh mailing addresses, and Balkar Singh, 40, who has a Cheswick mailing address. Hill and Sadhra face two misdemeanor counts of simple assault, while Singh faces one, according to online court records. The men are being notified of the charges by mail, Manko said.
The incident occurred about 6:45 p.m. Friday after a dispute over spilled gas, according to Pittsburgh police spokesman Chris Togneri.
Two women said a pump malfunctioned, and they demanded a refund, which the store owners refused. A verbal confrontation quickly became violent, according to Togneri.
Police reviewed multiple videos of the incident, including one taken by a bystander that appeared to show a lengthy physical confrontation in which the male store owners struck one of the women in the back of the head multiple times, and an employee grabbed one of the women by her hair and dragged her across the pavement, according to Togneri.
Police reviewed the gas station’s security camera, which appeared to show a female customer initiating the confrontation inside the store before it moved outside, Togneri said.
“The video showing the assault on these women is particularly disturbing as multiple men held down the women while punching them repeatedly,” Togneri said.
Manko said in an email that prosecutors made a final determination on the charges to be filed after viewing the video from inside the station.
Before the charges were announced Monday, protesters who gathered at the gas station for a third consecutive day demanded quick action.
People don’t need to protest or ask for charges to be filed when the person being accused is black, said Marcus Reed of Northview Heights. He’s president of the residents’ council there.
“These ladies right here were treated like they were wrong,” Reed said.
Court records indicate Hill is white and Singh is Native American/Alaskan Native, but no race is listed for Sadhra.
Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of The Black Political Empowerment Project, sent a letter to Zappala about the incident and publicly detailed his request that the people involved be prosecuted “expeditiously.”
The letter also is signed by Valerie Dixon of the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence. Copies of the letter were provided to the Urban League of Pittsburgh, the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit, the Alliance for Police Accountability and the Northside Partnership Project.
“We have begun to witness far too many instances in this nation of violence against people of color, and particularly African-Americans,” Stevens wrote in the letter. “As African American-based organizations, we will not tolerate the treatment shown in the video of these two African-American women.”
The letter called on Zappala to “send a very clear message that this type of treatment of African-Americans, and particularly African-American women at the hands of men, is totally unacceptable and that such acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Protesters Monday vowed to remain at the gas station to ensure it remained closed.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .